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Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Murphy has no updates on Verniero investigation

Gov, former AG expected investigation to conclude before 2019

By Nikita Biryukov, January 23 2019 1:34 pm

Former state Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero’s investigation into the state’s hiring of Al Alvarez was slated to be released before the end of 2018, but more than three weeks into the new year, it’s not clear when the investigation will be complete.

“I don’t know, actually,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday when asked about the timeline for the conclusion of Verniero’s investigation. “I would hope it’s imminent, but I don’t know the answer to that.”

Alvarez, formerly the chief of staff at the Schools Development Authority, resigned in October after a reporter reached out for comment on sexual assault allegations made against him by Katie Brennan, who is chief of staff at state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.

Brennan claims Alvarez sexually assaulted her in April 2017, when they were both involved with Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign.

At the time, Brennan was a volunteer for the campaign, while Alvarez handled outreach to Muslim and Latino outreach for the same.

After the details of Brennan’s allegation against Alvarez were first published in the Wall Street Journal in Mid-October, Murphy announced Verniero, a former state Attorney General, would be conducting a probe into Alvarez’s hiring that he expected would conclude by the end of the year.

In a separate October release, Verniero echoed Murphy on the timeline for the probe’s conclusion, but since then, little has been heard from that investigation into Alvarez’s hiring.

Murphy said he would receive intermittent updates about the probe’s progress when he announced it in October, but it’s not clear whether that practice was followed after the probe’s launch.

Separate probes into Brennan’s allegations and Alvarez hiring are being carried out by the Middlesex County Prosecutor and by a legislative Select Committee on Oversight drafted to investigate Alvarez’s hiring.

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