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Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano attacked Councilmembers Michael dePierro and Loretta Gragnani over affirmative votes they cast on a resolution to pay $425,000 to former Parsippany police captain James Carifi, the brother of their running mate, Councilman Paul Carifi.
“Let me be clear,” Soriano said. “I would be in full support of this resolution if it carried no risk to Parsippany taxpayers. Unfortunately, this hasty action by the Council carries millions of dollars of risk. My position has been and remains that we must fully resolve this legal saga in its entirety in the shortest possible timeframe.”
The suit is the third filed against the city in seven years by James Carifi, who ran against his brother in a primary earlier this year.
The retired police officer claimed former Parsippany Police Chief Paul Philipps, former Mayor Jamie Barberio and former township attorney John Inglesino of violating his right to free speech and refusing to provide him with public documents over a 24-month period.
Soriano said the suits have cost the township millions of dollars in legal fees.
“Our administration has always sought to do the right thing, regardless of politics. That is why I called for a special Council meeting on August 27th: to give the Council a chance to hear from our attorneys in person. This followed a memo to the Council regarding the legally appropriate ways to resolve these matters without damage to our taxpayers,” Soriano said. “Unfortunately, instead of stopping to consider the consequences of their reversal, dePierro and Gragnani were no-shows.”
The Democratic mayor urged the council to hold a vote to release the memo to the public.
Republicans said that Democratic Councilwoman Janice McCarthy, who had run with Soriano in 2017, voted with the Republicans on the payment to James Carifi.
“Mayor Soriano is not being forthright, plain and simple. First, he promised to work with us to resolve the longstanding Carifi matter, but now he wants to prolong it. Second, and most importantly, this payout is contractually obligated and will have no impact on taxpayers,” dePierro said. “Prolonging it made zero sense, unless you care more about political games than our town’s well-being. The Mayor’s so blatantly misleading taxpayers speaks to his character, or lack thereof.”
This story was updated at 3:09 PM to include comment from dePierro.