There are strong indications that the New Jersey Attorney General’s office in investigating allegations that Linden Mayor Derek Armstead ordered city employees to tear down signs of political opponents in tomorrow’s Democratic primary, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Sources with direct knowledge of a probe who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that the Union County Prosecutor had opened an investigation and then cancelled interviews with potential witnesses, telling them that the Attorney General’s office has taken over the investigation.
Signs removed by city employees were found hidden at the municipal garage, the sources said.
Armstead is locked in a bitter fight for control of the local Democratic organization with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari, the Linden Democratic municipal chairman.
The mayor, who won renomination to a second term running off the line last June, is also backing a slate of candidates challenging incumbent legislators and freeholders.
In the 8th ward, Scutari is supporting Councilman Paul Coates, who recently took his seat after a protracted legal battle when Armstead refused to seat him. Garnett Blaine is challenging Coates for the Democratic nomination in a special election to fill an unexpired term
This is the latest in a series of legal problems for Armstead. Last Thursday, he appeared in Westfield Municipal Court on charges that he assaulted Councilman John Francis Roman. The court granted Armstead a continuance.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office declined comment, citing a policy to neither confirm nor deny investigations.