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Michael Angelini Fighting Loss of Pension

The former West Deptford solicitor and Gloucester County Democratic Party chairman is contesting the state’s decision to deny him a pension from several part-time public jobs.

As an attorney, Michael Angelini is used to fighting for his clients in court.

But, there's something he's not used to: fighting in court for his own future.

In this case, that future is an annual pension totaling about $100,000 per year.

In July, the state’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) found Angelini ineligible to collect a pension cobbled together from several part-time legal jobs he held with South Jersey towns and agencies over 28 years, including a 22-year stint as solicitor in West Deptford. 

At issue was whether Angelini should have been considered an employee, or simply an independent contractor in those jobs. PERS ruled there was ample evidence to refute Angelini’s contention he was an employee of the towns and agencies that hired him.

Angelini, 59, is contesting PERS’ decision, and, in what could produce a precedent-setting decision, a state administrative law judge is expected to hear the case within the next few months.

“Obviously, I believe the decision was incorrect,” Angelini said in an interview last week. “That’s why we’re appealing it. I look forward to my day in court.”

Angelini declined further comment, citing the pending court case.

In March 2010, shortly after taking office, Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation that prohibits part-time workers from collecting pension benefits for more than one public job. However, the law only applies to those who began working after the law was signed, and not to part-timers like Angelini.

This means there are still dozens of professionals “stacking” pension benefits by working multiple part-time jobs with New Jersey municipalities and public agencies.

The judge’s decision in Angelini’s case could ultimately affect the pensions of those part-time workers. 

Political connections

Angelini is a partner in the politically connected Woodbury law firm Angelini, Viniar and Freedman, LLP.  Until 2010, he also was chairman of the Gloucester County Democratic Party, and one of the architects of former county Freeholder Stephen M. Sweeney’s rise to president of the New Jersey Senate.

From the mid-1980s on, Angelini and his firm benefited from Democrats’ stronghold on Gloucester County, as well as Angelini’s close personal relationship with George E. Norcross III, the powerful leader of South Jersey Democrats.

Angelini and his firm were appointed to numerous jobs performing legal work for Democrat-controlled towns and agencies such as the South Jersey Transportation Authority, the South Jersey Port Corp. and the Gloucester County Improvement Authority.

In 2008, Angelini testified at the federal corruption trial of former state Sen. Wayne Bryant, who was accused of accepting salaries and benefits from public employers for which he did little or no work. Like Angelini, Bryant provided legal services for the Gloucester County Board of Social Services. The former senator was found guilty and sentenced to for years in prison.

During Bryant’s trial, Angelini testified that it was common for professionals such as attorneys to take multiple public, part-time jobs in South Jersey to boost their pensions, and that no one had ever questioned the practice.

A year later, then state Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper singled Angelini out in a detailed, 62-page report that slammed Angelini for alleged abuse of the pension system. 

Cooper referred her finding to the state Division of Pensions, which began its own investigation.

'Not a valid employee'

In a letter sent to Angelini’s attorney on July 30 of this year, PERS laid out its findings in determining that Angelini was ineligible to collect a state pension.

For example, the agency found that in West Deptford, Mantua and Paulsboro, Angelini’s job responsibilities as solicitor “were permitted to be performed by any qualified member of his firm, Angelini, Viniar and Freedman. That is, these professional service relationships did not require Mr. Angelini to actually perform the services. The Board concludes, therefore, that Mr. Angelini was not in valid employer/employee relationships at these locations.”

West Deptford Patch obtained letters regarding Angelini’s pension from the state Department of the Treasury, through the New Jersey Open Public Records Act. 

(To read the correspondence, click on the PDF above.)

In reviewing Angelini’s employment contracts the Treasury division found an odd discrepancy: Although his contracts with the Gloucester County Improvement Authority for 2007 and 2008 specifically stated the authority’s attorney would be an independent contractor, both agreements included pension benefits.

“The board considered this to be conclusive evidence that Mr. Angelini was not a valid employee at the authority,” wrote Hank Schwedes, secretary of the PERS board of trustees, in the July 30 letter.

Frequently absent

The PERS inquiry also found that Angelini frequently did not attend meetings or court proceedings in person, but instead sent substitutes on his behalf.

For example, from 1999 to 2003 in Clayton, Angelini attended only 21 percent of court proceedings as borough prosecutor, according to Schwedes’ letter.

“The remaining hearings were attended by Associates of his firm and other non-affiliated attorneys,” the letter states.

The letter also points out that while serving as solicitor in Paulsboro, from 1995 to 2007 Angelini personally attended only 68 of 325 meetings at which the solicitor’s presence was required.

“The Board determined that these characteristics, among others, demonstrate that he was not an employee according to IRS guidelines or any other criteria,” Schwedes wrote.

The letter notes that Angelini’s contributions to the state pension system would be returned to him.

Angelini’s long tenure as West Deptford's solicitor ended in early 2011, when Republicans took control of the township committee.

However, he hasn’t totally disappeared from the public payroll.

Angelini currently serves as solicitor for two Democrat-controlled Gloucester County towns, Mantua and Paulsboro. 

Lucy McHenry October 18, 2012 at 04:15 PM
lest not forget that Mark Cimino is not the township solicitor and besides he only represents 1 township,not like michael ( i'll rape your wallets ) angelini. of course unless your related you would stick up for him. he's a scumbag that never cared about the residents. naturally he contributed quite a bit too Dicarlo's campaign. the LIST. 1. G White. 2. R Andrews. 3. M Angelini 4. S Sweeney 5. A Docimo 6. D Shields
Ernest Kraus October 18, 2012 at 05:46 PM
As one as worked as an independent contractor, I know that Mr. Angellini should have received a 1099, that would make him an independent contractor under IRS guidelines. Independent contractors are not entitled to benifits. As an an independent contractor, he is required to pay the full amount of social security contribution. None should come from the employer. He is responsible for paying the federal withholding, state withholding and state unemployment compensation taxes. If he received health benifits from West Deptford, the the township should do a clawback for the cost as independent contractors do not qualify for it. Perhaps the IRS and state revenue departments should begin an investigation of his tax returns.
Wayne Klotz October 18, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Marge, not according to the certain people who write to patch!
Ernest Kraus October 18, 2012 at 06:14 PM
How and why does Mr. Klotz, a county employee, have time during his work day to log on to The Patch? In fairness, perhaps it's his lunch time or he's on one of his breaks. Pehaps this is an area for Mr. Whte to investigate.
WDNeedsHelp October 18, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Check the second photo above next to Angelni's picture. It's an email from Denice Dicarlo pulled from the site http://www.wdtruth.org asking her followers to meet at Angelini's office to make phone calls. Does this woman really expect us to believe she has the best interests of the taxpayers in mind when she blatantly associates with this type of ilk? The voters turned her down last year and they should do the same this year. Vote For Hansen !
Wayne Klotz October 18, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Ernie; at it again. like at twsp meetings you donot have a clue about what you say. Please get right I am on my time of yours. See you tonite!!
Wayne Klotz October 18, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I ant my own time not yours!
Madeline Fucci October 18, 2012 at 06:56 PM
West Deptford has been run like a medieval fiefdom for over two decades for the PRIVILEGED political class and their minions at the expense of this towns hardworking families. During these difficult financial times, hard working people struggle to pay their bills when the privileged political class and their cronies enjoy the luxury of exorbitant salaries, benefits and perks reserved for the regime and their cronies. I hope Republicans, Democrats and Independents will hold all those who are responsible for the outrageous financial damage done to this town and do not vote for Denice DiCarlo who is part and parcel of the previous regime and former member of the School Board who managed to raise our taxes two and a half millions dollars during her stint on the Board.
Wayne Klotz October 18, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Stick to the issues people, not blaming one person!
GeneSimmons78 October 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Ms Fucci I wouldn't normally comment on these things but the end of your statement does not make any sense to me. How did 1 person on a board of 8 people raise your taxes 2 million?
Wayne Klotz October 18, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Genesimmons78; see what I mean about these people who donot stick to the issues!
Madeline Fucci October 18, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Mister Gutless Simmons who uses a fictitious name, Denice DiCarlo was the CFO on the School Board. The same Denice DiCarlo who had claimed to be a CPA but in 8 months has yet to produce her supposed license. She was also AWOL when this particular budget which she approved was passed. Understand now?
GeneSimmons78 October 18, 2012 at 08:32 PM
??? Ms Fucci I was not attacking you. My name is Gene Simmons and it just so happens that I have the same name as the man in the pick. I wouldn't expect you to understand so I changed it for you. My question was out of curiosity not condemnation. Thank you for your answer. As to the CPA question what does that have to do with Mr. Angelini (who I also believe should not be collecting a pension). Does anyone on the committee have a CPA and is that a requirement? Curious.
Govt Watchdog October 18, 2012 at 09:21 PM
When I see his picture this come to mine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdwuiyO7hOU
Wayne Klotz October 18, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Well gene, you know how is with people who dnnot stick to the issues. Oh by the way people , why is ms DICARLO'S name is even in this conversation when it's about mr. Angelini, not DICARLO!! I guess that's a typical republican for you. Blame someone else so they won't have to defend thier actions!!
Wayne Klotz October 18, 2012 at 10:35 PM
What a new name ? Old. Rws for you Sam! Aren' you tired of bringing the same old stuff, go t watchdog? What a joke your are, pal!
Dave Sandler October 19, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Good point on the 1099's. How about an investigation of the billing rates when underlings were working. Might as well look at the hourly billings too. These practices are an insult to all career public employees. Its time to call out all these multi dippers still working and ask them to voluntarily waive the excess pensions.
Govt Watchdog October 19, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I was sitting right next to you tonight at the meeting... or should I call you HOWARD.. the name on your shirt.
leaveonetree October 19, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Wayne, Don't you understand that Angelini is helping Denice for reelection so there is the tie? When people say Denice is just part of the same ole same ole it is because she is the speaking dog for white, angelini and shields. Tell you friend marble mouth that will ya
Wayne Klotz October 19, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Govt watchdog; then you know what kind of a joke Hansen is then!!
Wayne Klotz October 19, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Leave one tree; why is Denice's name is even in this conversation? Because you and Jeff Hansen donot have anything else to talk about! Like mayor chi tall said in his so called speech it is about honesty! What a joke of a comment from ray himself!!!
Where's Sam's Masters Degree October 19, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Three strikes and you are out Hansen. Please retire because this will be your third election loss and you really need to stop embarassing yourself. Ernest, where did your gay pony tail go? You look like an even bigger tool now!
WDNeedsHelp October 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM
And Dicarlos second...
WDNeedsHelp October 19, 2012 at 12:35 PM
This it totally lost on a fool who gains his employment from the same people who put WD in the fiscal mess we now have. Klutz just advocates the same tired party bosses that ruined WD. I encourage everyone to attend Mr. Klutz's meetings at Shady Lane Nursing Home next Thursday at 5:00 PM where he serves on the Advisory Committee. Shady Lane Nursing Home 256 County House Road Clarksboro, NJ 08020 Maybe he needs his performance there critiqued by the public.
Corrupt Republicans October 19, 2012 at 12:55 PM
How many more family members will Sam hire and give scholarships to in the next two years? Sam the Nepotism man strikes again.
My Town Too October 19, 2012 at 03:14 PM
The connection between Mr A and Ms D is clear. His office serves as a call center for her campaign calls. He has her signs on his lawn. He is a financial supporter of the WD Democratic Party. AND he is being denied his pension for his service in WD. The same man that allowed this to happen in WDT under his administration (Jerry White) is head of the WD Dem party. Connect the docs.
Scott October 20, 2012 at 08:15 PM
When do you work for a state, local or federal agency without being a civil servant you are considered a contractor period.
Wayne Klotz October 21, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Occupant, no guts to tell me to my face do you? Typical republicans! Nights, no courage
Wayne Klotz October 21, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I meant no guts!!
The truthful Jim Hink October 28, 2012 at 09:38 PM
wayne,you are a total tool

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