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James P. Brady, Attorney at Law

                              

              

                Certified Civil Trial Attorney 


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Trenton Shenanigans

Posted on July 2, 2016 at 3:10 PM

The following is a blog published om May 3, 2016 in the Trentonian by Kevin Moriarty:

"Mark 6:4


You know, that’s the one about the prophet without honor in his own town. 


Yep, pretty much. 


In the example I will discuss this morning, the Prophet spoke through a lawyer. He was no less clairvoyant by virtue of being represented by Counsel. 


Today’s reading comes from select excerpts from the Letter of James Brady, Attorney at Law, to Trenton City Clerk Juanita Joyner, May 21, 2009. The full letter can be found here [https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/d11fbaff-b1e5-45e7-979a-3a4f6536b3ff], produced by the City in answer to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request I filed with the City in March. 


“On May 18 & 20, I consulted with Mr. [Joseph] Harris, President of ADPC regarding [the Award of Contract to IPS Payall Solutions, LLC by the City of Trenton]. As you know, Mr. Harris was part of the evaluation committee, which prepared bid specifications and reviewed the bids for a fully integrated Human Resources Information System, Payroll System, Benefits Management and Timekeeping/Labor Tracking System (’HRIS’ System) to be implemented for the City of Trenton. Pursuant to my meeting with Mr. Harris, I am providing this letter so that the position of Mr. Harris is protected in the event of any adverse consequences resulting from the action referenced above..." 


The letter goes on to discuss many irregularities in this bid and contract process. Mr. Brady concludes, 


“I have advised my client, Mr. Harris, that based on the information in my possession, the award to [sic] the contract to IPS is in violation of the ‘Local Public Contracts Law.’ Therefore I am submitting this letter, so that it may be recorded that the involvement of Mr. Harris (as outlined above) regarding this contract ended as of May 1, 2009, and that Mr. Harris played no part in any subsequent illegality. I trust that you will advise the Mayor, his Chief of Staff, and the City Council of the concerns expressed herein by providing each a copy of this letter.” [Emphasis mine - KM]


Well.

 

This is a remarkable document. We’ve known that the matter of Trenton’s Stolen Tax Millions and the involvement of Innovative Payroll Services (IPS) and its principal John Scholtz goes back to at least early 2015, thanks to documents released from an earlier OPRA request showing correspondence between IPS and the City discussing late payments and other irregularities.

 

Now we know that as far back as 2009, at the very beginning of IPS’ association with the City, there were serious concerns that this association and the process which created with it were so inherently flawed that a lawyer was hired to write a letter warning everyone he could think of of “adverse consequences” and “subsequent illegality” that would result.

 

Read the full letter for all the details the Mr. Brady provides to substantiate the claims of his client Joseph Harris. To briefly summarize, Brady’s main points are that:

 

The bidding and evaluation process undertaken to hire IPS was rushed, pushed along in less time than required by NJ law. Evaluation and recommendation reports required by law to be written and made public prior to action by City Council were not completed nor publicized.

IPS’ submitted bid was incomplete and defective. IPS itself lacked the required qualifications to bid for Trenton’s business.

The award of the City’s business to IPS was made on an “emergency basis,” although the basis for the “emergency” was not stated in the authorizing City Council Resolution, or even mentioned. Mr Brady writes, “Further, it is difficult to fathom just exactly what the ‘emergency’ might be as the City of Trenton already has a payroll system in place, and has been able to function without a fully integrated ‘HRIS’ System heretofore without imperiling the ‘public health, safety or welfare’ [one of the criteria necessary to justify an Emergency].”

As mentioned above, we know that the theft of multiple millions of dollars intended as tax payments to the Internal Revenue Service and the State of New Jersey which is being discussed by Council at its Thursday evening session covers losses incurred in 2015. Now we have to be asking ourselves, just how far back do these adverse consequences and illegalities really go?

 

This letter is one steaming hot load of accusation. Read in the context of what we know IPS did in 2015, this certainly qualifies as prophetic. Given the serious nature of the claims made here, this letter should certainly lead to a fuller audit and investigation, by outside prosecutors if necessary, into the entire term of the association of Innovative Payroll Services and the City of Trenton.

 

We have seen a lot of mischief and shenanigans in Trenton during these last seven lean, plague years. We can’t be certain that everything that went on during that time has been brought to light.

 

One more note, about the treatment shown by Trenton to Joseph Harris, of ADPC, the unwitting prophet whose lawyered-up cry of adverse consequence and illegality went unheeded by those who should have listened.

 

Just one year after Harris warned the City about IPS, the City in 2010 attempted to fire his company ADPC, which had provided Information Technology services to Trenton for nearly a quarter-century. In a seriously flawed bidding and contracting process, which was voided by a Superior Court judge, the City attempted to hire an unqualified vendor – Lynx Technology – to replace ADPC.

 

That well-recorded process was unsuccessful in dislodging ADPC. However, four years later the City tried again, This time, it succeeded.

 

In 2015, as the result of a seriously flawed bidding and contracting process – do we see a continuing theme here, perhaps? – ADPC was replaced as Trenton’s IT vendor by the obviously unqualified FCC Consulting Services. This action, although the subject of a lawsuit by Mr. Harris, has so far been unsuccessful in reversing the result of that process as 2010’s had been reversed.

 

After losing the City of Trenton as his main client, ADPC has reportedly been struggling financially. Mr. Harris at present seems to be suffering a fate common to many prophets whose words of truth fall to the ground unheard, their warnings unheeded.

 

There are more documents, several hundreds of pages worth, that were released by the City in response to my OPRA request, providing more detail in the RFP and bid processes in 2009 and 2012 which led to to contracts for IPS. I haven’t begun to review them all, but hope to do so soon.

 

When I do review them, they will be viewed through the prism of this Brady letter. The letter strongly suggests that the process that brought a criminal enterprise in to run the city’s payroll for seven years, and which has led to the loss of AT LEAST Six Million Dollars in 2015, was very likely illegal and very possibly corrupt from the very start.

 

Also viewed through this prism, the otherwise baffling treatment of ADPC in 2010 and 2015 – in which the Administrations of first Tony Mack and then Eric Jackson seemed almost to single out the company for dismissal, and took extraordinary measures to replace them – starts to make sense.

 

Was Joseph Harris and ADPC punished for raising the red flag about IPS in 2009? Was ADPC fired and sent to the wilderness as payback for Harris’ whistleblowing?

 

The plot, as they say, thickens."


JPB Note:  This Blog by Mr. Moriarty concerns the $3.3 million of payroll witholdings that IPS did not deposit with the IRS and what appears to be a significant portion of the $1.8 million of State payroll witholdings that IPS did not deposit with the State. The City was getting notices from the IRS and State regarding this since at leadt April, 2015.

 

 

 

Categories: Local Public Contracts Law, Litigation, Government