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Sweeney Calls for Investigation of WD and Sunoco on Tax Refund Payment

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney pens a letter to both the state attorney general and NJ DEP alleging illegal tax reimbursement from the township.

With elections gearing up, the Sunoco-owned Eagle Point refinery tax appeals settlement has found itself at the center of much political debate in West Deptford. That got kicked up a notch this week with accusations from New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney.

In a letter dated Oct. 24, Sweeney called for the state attorney general’s office and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to investigate the township on grounds that the reimbursement of $13.1 million to Sunoco was illegal, according to recently passed legislation.

Sweeney’s letter alleges the reimbursement violates a law signed by Gov. Chris Christie on July 9. Sweeney says in accordance with the law, property tax refunds should have been escrowed with the DEP. 

All properties that are decommissioned or partially decommissioned and are given state orders for remediation are subject to this law. The DEP is then responsible for using the tax refund money to execute an environmental cleanup of the site. After cleanup, what is left of the money is returned to the property’s owner. 

“I was shocked and dismayed to recently learn that West Deptford officials have apparently disbursed $13.1 million of tax refunds to Sunoco Inc. in what appears to be a direct violation of the law,” Sweeney wrote. 

Sweeney went on to say that both Sunoco and the township committee were fully aware of the law at the time of reimbursement, and he believes the township solicitor used counsel from Sunoco’s attorney to justify this alleged illegal action. 

Township Solicitor Anthony Ogozalek told the Gloucester County TimesWednesday that the law does not apply to the Sunoco settlement since the property was not “underutilized”—one of the qualifiers for the law.  

“We can all agree that the property is not vacant, so the issue comes down to whether it is ‘underutilized,’" Ogozalek told the Times. “Based on DEP regulations and state statute, and using the technical opinion of Maurice Stack, whom we’ve used as an expert on this for years, we came to the conclusion that it does not apply.”

Sweeney goes on to allege that West Deptford's action was either the township’s way of securing Sunoco’s  $750,000 donation toward new fire trucks or the donation from Sunoco was the bribe in order to ensure the township would disperse the money directly to the company and not to the DEP.

Patch was unable to reach West Deptford's mayor or township solicitor before presstime. 

Sweeney has requested that both offices investigate the possibility of illegal dispersed funds and to hold all perpetrators of the violation accountable.

Sunoco is still in the process of cleaning up the contaminated refinery.

Rustee Hinges October 26, 2012 at 12:30 PM
A plethora of lawsuits against the township, political pay-to-play scams with their professionals, and now illegal tax kickbacks and bribery. Great leadership Sam & Ray!! These two buffoons need to resign immediately.
Wayne Klotz October 26, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Not according to the people like redneckwillie and gang!
Rustie Hinges October 26, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Illegal kickbacks and bribery schemes!!!!!Really, this is what we got when we elected two jokers named Chintall and Cianfarini. These two men should resign now before they get thrown in jail to save our town the embarassment. Residents should take notice and learn from their mistakes on election day. Vote DiCarlo and stop this corruption.
GEORGE ROBERTS October 26, 2012 at 01:07 PM
why doesn't he call for am investigation into the Camden county police take over. oh thats right everyone already knows it's a crime except him.
Lauren Burgoon October 26, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Readers, Yet another reminder: Debate the issues, debate the players involved - great. Stop using profanity. Stop using masked profanity. Stop attacking each other. All of these comments will be removed. Yes, even one curse word or masked profanity from an otherwise legit post will force us to delete it. If you have any questions about what's allowed, see our terms of use http://westdeptford.patch.com/terms
Samantha McCall October 26, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Mr. Sweeney is again showing his true colors, he doesn't care about this town, it's all politics to him. He should be ashamed of himself, but then again, that would mean he has integrity. Everyone knows that Sweeney is behind all of the lawsuits, him and his buddy George Norcross. I believe the law firm used in this is associated with George Norcross. Steve Sweeney cannot stand that the people are not asleep anymore, and we want answers and actions that benefit the taxpayer, not the politician. Sweeney and Norcross are nothing but bullies. Steve, why don't you come to a township meeting, we would love to see you there. But, we all know that you are spineless, and you would rather hind behind the press.
Madeline Fucci October 26, 2012 at 02:39 PM
In a mass mailing to the residents of West Deptford (which was undated) and included an article from the Inquirer dated 5/4/12, both Denice and Donna were opposed to the settlement negotiated by the new administration. they were encouraging residents to sign petitions and had attempted to organize rallies opposing the settlement. Apparently, when their efforts fell flat because the taxpayers realized it was in their best interest to settle this two decade lawsuit, both Denice and Donna voted to make the decision unanimous. I'm sure their puppet master told them they would be able to claim credit -- since they were against it before they were for it.
Jeff Jones October 26, 2012 at 02:41 PM
The refinery probably falls into a gray area of whether or not this new DEP regulation applies. A logical case could probably be made either way. I do not believe Sweeney is really looking out for the best interests of WD taxpayers in raising this lawsuit. If his claim holds, our town will be back to the drawing board. Sunoco agreed to the settlement because they would be getting all the money. If most of the $13.1mm would be needed to clean up the site, then Sunoco wouldn't agree to it. We would have more drawn out legal battles, more costs and more uncertainty. Our bonds got rated highly to settle this issue, I think we should quit while we're ahead, as long as we are not clearly violating this new DEP law. If Sweeney really cared about WD, he would show us abiding by the DEP law would improve our outcome. I don't think it will.
ChuckWagon October 26, 2012 at 02:41 PM
How is Sweeney "shocked and dismayed" by this? Where has he been the past year? The late October timing of Sweeney's comments is very coincidental. If our town was unknowingly doing something illegal (which by the way, it doesn't appear they were) I would hope that someone as "supposedly" knowledgeable as Sweeney would step in for the good of West Deptford and say "Whoa, wait a minute people, legally we can't do this." Let me repeat "For the Good of WD!" A lot of yahoos on this site are starting to sound exactly like the "career" politicians they blindly support.
Wayne Klotz October 26, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Then ask yourselves this then; war 4.5 million missing like the republicans said it was? is their any corruption ever been proven? If so thier is it's right now going on! And the republicans are in control! Looks like the joke is on your support of ray and Sam!
kermit October 26, 2012 at 04:45 PM
without a doubt this is a guaranteed win for the republicans right on down the line. to throw donna and denise under the bus for voting and making it a 5-0 to after sunoco. another word sweeney wants scrubbed from our vocabulary=BRIBE. this lawsuit won't even get out of the starting gate.how many locks have been changed
Wayne Klotz October 26, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Not another new name . Good Kermit except that thieir is no prove of any wrong doing . But ask yourself this. What happened to the case of threats against ray and Sam? Did they forget that or was that a story of lies?!
WDNeedsHelp October 26, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Sweeney is pissed that he lost in West Deptford and continues to lose here and elsewhere. He and his Camden cronies were stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from WD by keeping the suit alive and paying off the likes of Angelini and other law firms to litigate it. (another scumsucker, suing to get back a pension he does not deserve) Now all that money is gone for Sweeney and Co and he's throwing a tantrum on the good people of WD. Lets show Sweeney and his ilk what we think of them on Nov 6th and vote Republican across the board. This goes for all you folks registered Democrat that are tired of being grouped with these types of people, you are better than that.
WDNeedsHelp October 26, 2012 at 05:31 PM
What Truth Klutz??? That you and Sweeney are on the way out and you just can't stand that fact, is that the truth you are refering to. The County is the next place "targeted" for cleanup so you and Eric "Marblemouth" who have patronage jobs (given to him by his mother-inlaw) there better start looking to see if Micky D's is hiring.
WDNeedsHelp October 26, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I Agree Rusty, but you made a mistake, replace C&C with Docimo and Shields. They are the real crooks and I believe now that we have the AG in here looking at the Town they will be hung out to dry when "it" hits the fan. Sweeney will cover his rearend with theirs, so I hope it was worth it for them to back him.
WDNeedsHelp October 26, 2012 at 05:39 PM
And how are you and Marblemouth helping Klutz? You two jokers are nothing but County Stooges who owe your existenct to your partonage jobs there. All you do is spew garbage and lies here on the forum and at the Town meetings. Please, keep backing the likes of Dicarlo and Sweeney, the good people of WD (Democrats included) are aware of what you have done and you will be held accountable when the County is taken over as was West Deptford. See you in the unemployment line.
ChuckWagon October 26, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Klotz, are you replying to me? If so, where do I voice my support for anyone? I only voiced my current displeasure of Sweeney (and really all of these lawsuit happy slicksters). Do you know who benefits from all of this litigation? Lawyers and politicians! Also, I didn't know the $4.5M was found...and...isn't WD suing Fulton Bank (and not vice versa as you've stated)? One would think a WD resident would be more than happy that someone was looking out for their missing $4.5M. No?
Wayne Klotz October 26, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Wdneedshelp; would you get your stories straight please before you en embarress yourself? Sweeney is not going anywhere except back to Trenton! As far as the county , it is the best county ever and for you to say it needs cleaning you really donot know good government,Sam or ray, who ever you are!!
Wayne Klotz October 26, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Chuck wagon, you finally replied!
redneckwillie3 October 26, 2012 at 07:04 PM
wayne if you agree with the wrong doings of the dem machine then you are no better than them. you should be kind your job is at stake and maybe you'll get a break on your water bill. you are on the losing end of a democratic disaster just like FRANKENSTORM. you are a lot of wind and clueless to boot.
William F Mead October 26, 2012 at 07:53 PM
The only reason that State Senator Sweeney is "shocked and dismayed" is because his sycophants actually and finally got caught in the act. His pandering is damage control for his 2013 re-election campaign. Kudos to WDTruth!
ChuckWagon October 26, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Yep. Sorry, but I don't have time during my busy day to sit and monitor political blogs and chat rooms. I have a life.
Wayne Klotz October 26, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Bill, please tell the truth about why you switched parties!
Samantha McCall October 26, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Oh, BTW Steve, you state that the money should have been put in an escrow account with the DEP, well, where was the escrow account that should have been set up by the previous administration to settle the lawsuit?
Occupant October 26, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Do you think it was Fulton bank or Commerce/TD bank?
Dave Turner October 27, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Chintall, Cianfarini, and Forte are running scared now that they know the attorney general is coming after them. All of their scare tactics (bankruptcy, corruption, missing money, etc) were proven to be bogus and now they have broken the law and its time to pay the piper. Sam and Ray will look great in oragne jump suits. Who will drop the soap first?
William F Mead October 27, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Wayne... I am a registered Unaffilited voter. The TRUTH is that I washed my hands of the Democratic Party because of the corruption, calumniation and cutthroatism of Sweeney, Angelini, Damminger and their Legion of Sychophantic Simpletons.
Samantha McCall October 29, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Maybe Jerry White will drop the soap first, and then one can only hope, Steve Sweeney. Because apparently, we, the tax payers have been dropping the soap for the last 20 years!
WDNeedsHelp October 29, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I believe the Dems and their County Stooges like Wayne Klutz and Eric "Marblemouth" Agren will be the first to be "shower buddies" when the hammer comes down on WD and then the County thieves. They were stupid enough to paint targets on their backs and the AG will gladly oblige them with a good hard look at their jobs and compensation.
Mike Duffy October 29, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I believe some democrats will be going to jail then lets hear the excuses. The lack of responsibility of that party is astonishing!

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