A Paramus councilwoman wants the Bergen County Prosecutor to launch an investigation into allegations that the borough administrator had municipal employees repair his personal vehicle, according to a letter obtained by the New Jersey Globe.
MariaElena Bellinger, who is also the Democratic mayoral candidate, wants to know if the administrator, Hector Olmo, “misused public resources for personal benefit.”
“It was alleged to me that Mr. Olmo, despite recently driving a brand new borough vehicle, had his personal vehicle serviced in a borough garage, using borough resources, and on borough time,” Bellinger said in a letter to the prosecutor, Mark Musella. “This is especially concerning because the borough administrator oversees the public employees who would have done the alleged work to his vehicle.”
Olmo, a GOP councilman in Cresskill who has twice sought countywide office, was hired earlier this year after Paramus Republicans won control of the borough council in the 2021 election.
“I asked Mr. Olmo is this account is accurate at a public meeting, and to my surprise he did not take that opportunity to deny the claims,” Bellinger said. “Instead, he seemed to indicate that he did have his car service as described and may be aware of similar instances of impropriety in the past.”
Earlier this month, Olmo acknowledged the issue and said there would be an investigation but declined to comment on specifics.
Bellinger has eschewed the credibility of an internal investigation conducted by the Republican majority on their own appointee,
“These allegations are serious and the process has lacked transparency, Bellinger told the New Jersey Globe when asked about her letter. “In order to avoid any potential conflict of interest, I referred the matter to the appropriate independent authority.”
A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office declined to confirm or deny any investigation.
It’s not immediately clear if Musella will transfer the matter to another county. Olmo spent 13 years as a fatal accident investigator for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office while serving as a Tenafly police officer. He left that post in 2016, three years before Musella became prosecutor. Typically, issues of potential conflict are considered on a case by case basis.
Bellinger faces Republican Councilman Christopher DiPiazza for the seat of Mayor Richard LaBarbiera, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election to a fourth term.