A top state Health Department official responsible for inspecting hospitals and long-term care facilities affected by the coronavirus pandemic has some peculiar ties to Christopher Neuwirth, who was fired as an advisor to Gov. Phil Murphy last month without any official explanation.
Stefanie Mozgai, the assistant commissioner of Heath Facility Survey and Field Operations, is married to Neuwirth’s boss – some say just a co-worker — at a private company where he did side work.
Steven J. Healy, the Margolis Healy & Associates CEO, confirmed that Francis Mozgai is employed as director of emergency management.
Margolis Healy markets their services directly to hospitals, residential facilities, assisted living, and nursing homes, according to their marketing materials.
Stephanie Mozgai heads the office that inspects all of those facilities, although there have been no allegations of conflicts between her job and solicitation of business by her husband’s firm.
Neuwirth, who ran the Department of Health’s emergency preparedness operation, was fired on May 28.
Concurrent with his full-time post am assistant commissioner, Neuwirth also had a side gig with Margolis Healy, a national emergency management consulting firm affiliated with the Cozen O’Connor law firm.
Margolis Healy is sending mixed signals about the role of Neuwirth and Mozgai play in their company.
Healy said that Neuwirth was never employed by his firm an instead acted as a sub-contractor, but would not discuss the relationship between Neuwirth and Mozgai.
“I’m not prepared to comment on personnel,” Healy told the New Jersey Globe.
The Globe has learned that Neuwirth worked for Mozgai.
Both joined the firm about two years ago, records show. Around the same time, Mozgai retired as a Hillsborough police captain.
Mozgai reports to Daniel R. Pascale, the executive vice president and a former director of Emergency Management at Rutgers University.
Contacted by the Globe, Pascale said he has “nothing to say” and hung up.
Two weeks ago, the firm’s website listed Neuwirth as a senior associate which said he has been employed there for two years.
His name is no longer listed on the website.
Steven Molinelli, who currently works for the Rutgers Office of Emergency Management, is also listed on the Margolis Healy website as an associate.
Personal financial disclosure statements Neuwirth filed with the State Ethics Commission did not reveal his affiliation with Margolis Healy.
Neuwirth served as assistant commissioner of Public Health Infrastructure, Laboratories & Emergency Preparedness and oversaw emergency medical services and the state office of Disaster Resilience. He participated in some of Murphy’s early news conferences on COVID-19 in March.
It’s not immediately clear if Mozgai was also questioned as part of the probe.
Sources told the Globe that Murphy’s office was unaware of the Mozgai’s relationship to Margolis Healy.
Mozgai’s personal financial disclosure filed with the State Ethics Commission reported that her husband works for Cozen O’Connor, not Margolis Healy. Indeed, the disclosure misspelled the name of the firm – it said Kozzen O’Connor – on reports filed in two successive years.
“The form speaks for itself and was filed in compliance with state ethics requirements,” said Donna M. Leusner, a spokesperson for the Department of Health.
A woman who answered the phone at Cozen O’Connor’s Newark office said she had never heard of Mozgai and he did not show up on their employee list.
Asked if the list included Margolis Healy employees, she said, “no, that’s a separate company.”
Stefanie Mozgai, who has worked at the Department of Health since 1999, did not respond to a 1:04 PM call seeking comment on her office phone. Francis Mozgai did not respond to a 1:12 PM call to his cell phone.