Schools Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Lizette Delgado-Polanco was not told about the sexual assault allegations made against former SDA chief of staff Al Alvarez until the day he resigned, though she said she was told to expect his departure.
Delgado-Polanco told the Special Committee on Oversight that while she was interviewing for the position, she asked if Alvarez wanted the job. She said Gov. Phil Murphy’s outgoing chief of staff Pete Cammarano told her “It doesn’t matter. He’s leaving.”
She said Alvarez told her he could stay on until the end of October at the latest. Cammarano, former SDA chief Charles McKenna and Murphy campaign counsel Jonathan Berkon all separately advised Alvarez to depart from government service but did not provide a timeline for that departure or follow up to make sure Alvarez actually ceded his post.
Delgado-Polanco said she first learned of the allegations against Alvarez on Oct. 2, when a Wall Street Journal reporter reached out to him for comment on allegations made by state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency chief of staff Katie Brennan.
Brennan claims Alvarez sexually assaulted her in April 2017, when they were both part of Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign.
Delgado-Polanco said Alvarez offered to resign immediately after being contacted by the reporter to avoid dragging the SDA through the mud. Delgado-Polanco, who is also Democratic state vice-chair, said he told her that he had a consensual relationship with Brennan, who is married.
Alvarez contests the former claim. He wrote in an letter to the state Department of Labor to appeal a denied unemployment application. Alvarez says he was forced to resign and fax a resignation letter to the governor’s office.
Delgado-Polanco said he came into her office with a resignation letter already prepared. Cammarano told her to fax the letter over to him and direct all press inquiries on the matter to the governor’s office.
She said Alvarez did not name his accuser and told her that authorities declined to pursue charges.
The Hudson County Prosecutor opted not to pursue charges against Alvarez based on Brennan’s allegations. The matter is now being investigated by the Middlesex County Prosecutor. The MCPO is also investigating the HCPO’s handling of Brennan’s case.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said more than one probe into the Hudson County Prosecutor’s handling of Brennan’s case was being conducted.