A policy approved by the Linden City Council fifteen years ago requiring the municipal prosecutor to pay for substitutes at their own expense vindicates Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), who was criticized for high absenteeism by a political rival, Mayor Derek Armstead.
Now Armstead may be the one in trouble after launching a probe of Scutari.
The longtime senator is now calling for Armstead’s resignation and alleging that he obstructed an investigation and lied to the public.
“Mayor Armstead was on Council when this policy was passed, he was well aware it existed. During his time as Mayor, he continued this policy,” Scutari said. “Yet, he called on authorities to investigate me, falsely claiming I did something wrong.”
According to the policy, the city would pay for a substitute up to thirteen days a year.
“If you exceed the thirteen days, you will be responsible for reimbursing the City of Linden for the cost of a substitute,” a memo to Scutari and Municipal Court Judge Louis DiLeo from the Finance/Personnel Committee stated.
Scutari had been the prosecutor from 2005 until Mayor Derek Armstead fired him from his $84,659-a-year job in January.
“This was the policy that covered my tenure as Municipal Prosecutor,” Scutari said. “And this policy remains in effect today.”
Scutari accused Armstead of failing to turn over the 2005 memo to investigators and not including it with several requests made under the state’s Open Public Records Act.
“Mayor Armstead and the Linden Council should be charged with filing a false report and should be forced to reimburse the taxpayers of Linden and the state of New Jersey for the money wasted on this political hit job,” Scutari said. “In light of Derek’s reckless action, he should give serious consideration to resigning as Linden Mayor and as Linden Democratic Chairman.”
Scutari announced last year that he was filing a defamation suit against Armstead, some members of the city council, “and everyone who was part of this hit job.”
“It is bad enough Derek showed no regard for people’s safety and went campaigning during the height of the pandemic,” Scutari said. “But to knowingly and willfully submit misleading information to the Attorney General in the hopes of creating a false investigation for political purposes is unconscionable.”
Armstead did not immediately respond to a text seeking comment at 10:51 AM. His voicemail has not yet been set up. This story will be updated if he responds.Linden 2005 memo law