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Mark Musella

Musella will be Bergen prosecutor as Murphy, Senators reach agreement

Sarlo expects package in ‘coming weeks’

By David Wildstein, February 08 2019 3:01 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to nominate Mark Musella as the Bergen County prosecutor as part of a package of appointments that has the backing of the four state senators from Bergen County and Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The deal between the governor and legislators includes four Superior Court Judges and nominees for the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission and the North Jersey District Water Commission,” State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) confirmed today.

“I have been assured by Sweeney and (Murphy chief of staff George) Helmy that this Bergen package will be done in the coming weeks,” Sarlo told the New Jersey Globe.

Sarlo said that tall four Bergen senators — Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest) and Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus) – have signed off on the package.  He said that Sweeney has agreed to move the Bergen package through the Senate before nominations from other counties move forward.

Murphy has already filed a notice of intent to nominate Nina Remson, Jaclyn Medina, Peter Geiger and Michael Beukas to the bench.  A fifth Bergen County judge, Michael Antoniewicz, was confirmed by the Senate in September.

Also included in the agreement is Murphy’s nomination of Fair Law councilman John Cosgrove for a seat on the sewerage commission and East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella to the water commission.

The nomination of Musella is a huge win for Sarlo, who recommended the 56-year-old Wood-Ridge attorney for the post.

Musella was an assistant Bergen County prosecutor from 1988 to 1996 and has worked as a municipal public defender for ten Bergen County municipalities.

Weinberg reportedly played a key role in securing judgeships for Remson, who is openly gay, and Medina, a former public defender and leader of the New Jersey Hispanic Bar Association.

Geiger is the Closter municipal court judge and was recommended for the post by Cardinale.

Murphy nominated Cosgrove to the PVSC last month at the request of Lagana.  The governor pulled the nomination of Casella, a Sarlo ally, and moved him to the water commission.

Approval of the package comes as Helmy, a former state director for U.S. Senator Cory Booker who has joined the Murphy administration as chief of staff, has made enhancing relationships with the Legislature a top priority.

The plan to nominate a prosecutor and judges has been in the works for months but came to a “screeching halt” following the controversy over Al Alvarez’s hiring as chief of staff at the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, Sarlo said.

The Bergen County prosecutor post has been vacant since Gurbir Grewal resigned thirteen months ago to become state Attorney General.  Once conformed, Musella would replace acting prosecutor Dennis Calo.

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