Less than two weeks after Bill Parenti launched his dishonest attack on retired police officer Darrin Russo, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office has contradicted Mr. Parenti, stating that all blame for possible mismanagement of the Franklin Police “union time” policy falls on “the former Chiefs” and not on “any individual officer.”
“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,” said Russo. “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.”
The prosecutor’s office’s September 4, 2019 letter, written by Detective Justin Berger to Acting Chief of Police in Franklin Township, John W. Fodor, states “it does not appear that there has been any criminal conduct or administrative policy violations committed by any individual officer.” However, it notes that “the former Chiefs approved or directed others to approve ‘union time’ in any particular matter.”
That includes Franklin Police Chief Larry Roberts, a top advisor to Mr. Parenti’s campaign for Sheriff, whom Parenti has referred to as “my undersheriff” – a job Mr. Parenti can grant should he win in November.
This scandal began in an August 22 press release in which Mr. Parenti made what are now proven to be false claims of wrongdoing against Darrin Russo and other Franklin police officers, while completely ignoring his own advisor’s role. Parenti again raised the issue at the League of Women’s Voters Forum on September 16th, where he accused – without evidence – the Franklin Township manager of “having full knowledge of the union time” and of covering things up despite public statements by the manager that this is not true.
“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,” said Peg Schaffer, Somerset County Democratic Chair. “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.”
In Mr. Parenti’s press release, he stated, “I look forward to the conclusion of the Prosecutor’s investigation so we can gather an understanding.” Now that the Prosecutor has completed the investigation, it is time for Mr. Parenti to show leadership and admit his attacks were not only off base but improper.
“Parenti talks about being ‘ready on day one’ but on the first day of his campaign he lied about the North Plainfield PBA endorsing him. Now we find out on day 100 he lied about me and all the other officers,” said Russo. “It is time for Parenti and Roberts to admit they were wrong and to apologize to the officers whose character and integrity they so casually besmirched.”