PATERSON - An administrative judge recommended that the federal government lift its ban keeping suspended Community Development Director Marilee Jackson from handling the agency's money.
won't get her
job back until state and county investigations into her
business dealings are resolved.
After a series of hearings, the judge found that the problems plaguing the troubled Paterson Department of Community Development, which works to provide affordable housing and rental assistance, existed before Jackson
arrived.Jackson did not have a chance in her 2½ years on the job to fix her department, wrote Administrative Judge H. Chuck Kullberg.
In March, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
for one year from overseeing any of the programs that receive federal funding.She
requested the hearings as an appeal to the ruling.A HUD
spokesman reached Friday night refused to comment as to whether the agency would follow the judge's recommendation.
The city, however, suspended Jackson from her
duties as a result of a Herald News report detailing how she
funneled federal subsidies to her
Clifton-based developer Nick Tselepis
received $315,140 in federal money from Jackson's
department while she
lived rent-free in one of his
properties.The state's Department of Community Affairs
launched an inquiry into the suspected ethics violations.Jackson
has been suspended since December without pay until the result of that inquiry is announced.City Business Administrator Eli Burgos said Jackson would not be reinstated as a result of the administrative judge's ruling until all the investigations are complete.
...The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office also launched an investigation into Tselepis and his business dealings with Jackson and City Councilman Jerry Luis Rosado.
Kullberg's report, issued last week, detailed HUD's repeated attempts to rein in the Community Development Department both before Jackson's
tenure and during.One month before Jackson was appointed to the job by Mayor Joey Torres, HUD found seven serious violations of law, regulation or administrative practice in the department's oversight of Section 8 rent vouchers.
...Jackson, a former City Council president, initially raised morale in a department depleted by departures, one employee testified before Kullberg.
also could not bring in outside technical assistance to reorganize her
department and train incompetent employees without the approval of the mayor.
In 2003 and 2004, Jackson's
department was bombarded with repeated HUD reviews of Section 8 and programs to build and buy affordable housing.The federal inspectors found 32 additional violations of policy.
Friday night, Jackson
appealed the HUD ruling because she
thought it was unfair to hold her
responsible for problems in the department that predated her
also said this was just the beginning of the road back to her
"It is going to continue until I'm truly vindicated," Jackson