A Superior Court Judge has ruled that former Salem County Republican Chairman Fran Grenier violated state election laws by accepting $220,000 from the estate of a deceased Republican supporter.
Judge Ann McDonald ordered Grenier and the county party organization to return the funds, which remain in their account. The money came from the estate of the late James X. Farish and was accepted through a now-disbanded political committee, the Reagan Republican Club of Penns Grove.
The successful legal challenge against Grenier was filed last year by Salem County Democratic Chairman Steven H. Caltabiano.
“It took longer than we had hoped, but that Court’s message is clear: you must follow the law. Illegal political contributions will not be tolerated,” Caltabiano said.
Grenier resigned as county chairman in February, three months after he lost a State Senate race to Senate President Steve Sweeney. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) spent nearly $5 million to help Grenier defeat Sweeney last year, but Grenier he received just 41% of the vote.
Republicans lost one freeholder seat in the November general election when a GOP incumbent was defeated. They lost control of the board in late December when Freeholder Melissa DeCastro switched to the Democratic Party – in a move rumored to have been engineered by Sweeny as payback to Grenier. DeCastro and Republican Freeholder Benjamin Laury are up for re-election this year in a contest that will determine control of the Board of Freeholders.