The New Jersey State Senate was not told that Francis P. Linnus was involved in a dispute with the state over taking health benefits he wasn’t legally entitled to when they voted to approve his nomination to the Somerset County Board of Taxation last week.
“If that information had been disclosed, I don’t think anyone would have approved him,” said State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Delran), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “To some degree, we were misled.”
An investigation by the state Pension Fraud & Abuse Unit completed last August found that Linnus, a politically connected attorney, received $118,252 in taxpayer-funded health benefits he was not legally entitled to during his time as the Manville borough attorney.
Linnus is appealing the finding by the Division of Pension and Benefits. He did not disclose the issue to the Senate on a questionnaire he filled out as part of his confirmation process.
“We expect a level of truthfulness,” Singleton said.
If Linnus loses his appeal, Singleton said he hopes Linnus “will do the honorable thing and resign.”
“It is my hope that we will have an opportunity to revisit,” Singleton said. “We’ll look to take whatever action we deem necessary.”
Linnus’ nomination sailed through the Senate last Thursday as part of a package of three Somerset tax board members who were confirmed.
With the confirmation of Michael Goldberg and Nina Jordan, Somerset County Democrats have now taken a 3-2 majority on the Board of Taxation. Linnus filled the seat of Republican Michael Pappas, a former one-term congressman who was not reappointed.
State Sen. Christopher Bateman (R-Branchburg) told the New Jersey Globe on Monday that he knew about the controversy surrounding Linnus, but thought that was in the past.
“I thought it was investigated and it wasn’t an issue. I thought it was resolved. I didn’t realize it was still an issue,” said Bateman. “Nobody told me that.”