A 22-year employee of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program says she was
placed on administrative leave terminated because she had concerns about the financial management of the agency by acting executive director Sudhan Thomas.
Thomas helped Mayor Steven Fulop orchestrate the removal of former Gov. James E. McGreevey earlier this year and has now taken on the day-to-day duties of the agency. McGreevey says he was fired because he fell out of favor with Fulop.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal obtained by the New Jersey Globe, Nuria Sierra alleges that Thomas has “continuously misappropriated funding and has jeopardized the financial integrity of the agency.
A letter of termination was sent to Sierra after she reported the alleged mismanagement to federal and state prosecutors.
Sierra, an accounts payable clerk, provided federal prosecutors with three checks made out to cash from the JCETP account totaling $16,500. The checks appear to be signed by Thomas, a political ally of Fulop.
She claims the agency provided employees with loans through payroll and refused to pay three other employees. Sierra said the JCETP awarded unapproved consultant contracts, and misappropriated Community Development Block Grant funds that ought to have been used to reimbursement for expenses under the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act.
In an e-mail to Stacey Flanagan, a board member, Sierra says that Thomas refused to sign checks for health insurance payments, leaving employees without coverage.
“This man will ruin the program,” Sierra told Flanagan.
She also alleges that Thomas opened five new bank accounts but refuses to give the chief financial officer access to the accounts.
Sierra was notified on July 5 that she was placed on administrative leave without pay and that her access to e-mail and financial accounting software had been deactivated.
Thomas was named to the JCETP board by McGreevey and soon became chairman. He has now stepped down from that post to become the acting executive director.
Thomas is also the president of the Jersey City Board of Education and is facing criticism for recent budget cuts and possible layoffs.
Fulop did not immediately respond to a 2:40 PM direct message seeking comment. Thomas did not immediately respond to a 2:53 PM call seeking comment.
An earlier version of this story stated that Thomas is paid for his role as acting executive director. He is not. This story was updated with news that the JCETP terminated Sierra.Sierra to Carpenito July 2019 JC