Democratic Somerset County Sheriff candidate Darrin Russo celebrated what amounted to an acquittal after the county prosecutor issued a letter saying Franklin’s police chief, and not individual officers, were responsible for abuses of union time there.
“It’s time for Parenti to apologize to my fellow officers now that the Prosecutor’s Office has completely absolved my fellow Franklin police officers and me,” Russo said. “It’s a shame Parenti decided to smear all these honorable men and women to score political points, especially since the prosecutor’s office rightly laid the issue on Mr. Parenti’s own campaign advisor, former Chief Larry Roberts.”
Last month, North Plainfield Police Chief Bill Parenti, the Republican candidate for sheriff, attacked Russo over 273 hours of union time the former Franklin Township police lieutenant took in the first half of 2016.
An investigation by the county prosecutor’s office determined that Franklin’s former police chief and police captain, if anyone, were responsible for the abuses of union time there.
“It does not appear that there has been any criminal conduct or administrative policy violations committed by any individual officer who submitted applications for ‘union time’ that were subsequently approved,” a detective in the Somerset County Prosecutor’s office said in a letter to Franklin’s chief of detectives.
The letter effectively closes a line of attack used by Parenti’s campaign and opens one up for his Democratic rival.
“The last thing public safety needs is a police chief willing to run to the media to make false accusations for personal and political gain, the very definition of corruption,” Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer said. “This deliberate attempt to manipulate voters by impugning members of law enforcement is dangerous when made by any politician, but in a Sheriff, it can ruin lives and careers. Mr. Parenti needs to apologize to the rank and file Franklin officers and admit that all the blame falls on his own campaign advisor, Chief Roberts.”