Your Turn

Attorney’s actions deserve attention

Drew Shapiro Guest Column

Drew Shapiro
Guest Column

It is no surprise that Stuart Moskovitz is responding to serious charges of malpractice and over-billing by attacking the messenger. And let there be no mistake about it: I am a candidate for office and my motivation for exposing Mr. Moskovitz’s shortcomings during the time that he was township attorney has everything to do with my candidacy. The people of Manalapan deserve a committee person who fights for their interests and I am such a person.

Setting aside Mr. Moskovitz’s incentive for attacking me, let’s look at the facts.

As has been reported by this and other news sources, Mr. Moskovitz failed to protect the township in the acquisition of the environmentally contaminated Dreyer tract. As a result, the township is facing significant cleanup costs to remediate the property. The taxpayers should not bear that burden. All that I have suggested is that we should let a court of law decide whether that failure constituted malpractice, and if so, Mr. Moskovitz should fund the cleanup and not the citizens of Manalapan.

My concern regarding Mr. Moskovitz’s billing practices is not new. From the time that Mr. Moskovitz received his politically appointed position as township attorney, I constantly complained about his billing. I also expressed my concerns that his actions were motivated by pure politics and a desire to settle scores, not the township’s best interests.

I did not lack a basis for questioning his motives. Mr. Moskovitz has made no secret that he worked on the campaigns of the Republican candidates in the past, and his appointment was a reward for that work.

Recently I took the step of reviewing Mr. Moskovitz’s bills to verify my suspicion that he had improperly billed the township. The bills clearly revealed that he charged the township for significant time allegedly spent prepping a particular Republican committeeman for upcoming meetings.

Mayor Andrew Lucas denied emphatically that he had ever been prepped by Mr. Moskovitz, and the rest of the current members of the Township Commit-tee denied that they had ever been prepped by an attorney for a meeting.

This raises the question of why former Committeeman Joseph Locricchio needed such special treatment, and whether billing the township for advancing a partisan agenda was improper. I propose that we submit the issue to the Office of Attorney Ethics and let that board answer the question.

Let’s also not rewrite the history of MARCO (the Manalapan Anti-Racketeer-ing and Corruption Ordinance). Mr. Moskovitz and his Republican cohorts removed Manalapan’s pay-to-play ordinance even though it had been called the strongest pay-to-play ordinance in New Jersey.

MARCO was his proposed replacement and its centerpiece was a kangaroo court whose sole purpose was to permit him to smear the reputation of his political enemies. Thankfully, he failed.

I’m really not sure what to make of Mr. Moskovitz’s belated defense of Alayne Shepler or Jerry Collincini.

The Township Committee’s discussions regarding those individuals occurred in executive session, meaning that they were meant to be private discussions not disclosed to the general public out of respect for those individuals’ right to privacy.

Mr. Moskovitz apparently has a source of information that is disclosing those discussions to him. He should know better, and his lack of restraint validates the decision made by the citizens of Manalapan to oust him from elected office.

As for the remainder of Mr. Mosko-vitz’s rantings, I am content to let the court of public opinion be the judge in the upcoming election. I trust that they will see through his mudslinging, innuendoes and baseless accusations against me. His Your Turn column (News Transcript, June 11) reads like something by a gossip columnist, and I will treat it like gossip deserves to be treated. Those who know me and have voted for me in the past will do so as well.

Now why would Mr. Moskovitz attack me? Because I am shining the light of day on the harm he visited upon Manalapan during his time as township attorney. He is afraid of the possibility that he may be liable for professional negligence regarding the purchase of the contaminated Dreyer tract, as well as the ramifications of the fact that I have exposed his overbilling of the township.

And why would he attack me now? Mr. Moskovitz obviously hopes to damage my candidacy for a return to elected office. He supports the campaign of Republican candidate Susan Cohen, whose husband is a client of his. Apparently he wants his old job as township attorney back and he knows I will do everything in my power to prevent that from occurring.

To his credit, at least Mr. Moskovitz has finally come out of the closet to put his name behind an attack on me, rather than lurking in the anonymity of the Internet.

I look forward to a clean electoral process in the upcoming months and hope the voters will vindicate my name.

Remember, when you see those nasty attack ads against me in your mailboxes this fall, Stuart Moskovitz is the reason.

Drew Shapiro is a resident of Manal-apan and a candidate for a seat on the Township Committee.