The investigation, which had been in the hands of the Bergen County Police Department, stems from the prosecutor’s auction of sports memorabilia earlier this year. As PIX11 reported last month, Molinelli’s office made false statements in an official document to obtain a no-bid contract for the prosecutor’s chosen memorabilia authenticator. He also never informed bidders that items at auction previously had been rejected by other authenticators.
The prosecutor’s office now also has denied a request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to release the identities of people who registered for his memorabilia auctions in May and September.
The request was made by Bill Brennan, a Passaic County resident and self-described public advocate. Brennan, who says he tries to combat fraud and waste in the state, told PIX11 he intends to challenge the OPRA denial in court. “I hope to have the complaint filed by Monday,” he said.
The prosecutor’s two auctions, in May and September, supposedly netted about $50,000 for Molinelli’s seized asset discretionary fund. Over the years Molinelli has used that fund to dish out millions of dollars to various county projects.
Since the PIX11 stories aired, the prosecutor has agreed to refund all items returned by bidders. His office has sent bidders letters making the offer, which also contained statements critical of PIX11.
Molinelli made similar comments in statements published this week on a news site covering North Jersey.
But the prosecutor’s comments do not address the report by PIX11 that his office made false statements in a memorandum sent to County Freeholders seeking approval to hire and pay authenticator Drew Max.
The denial of the OPRA request is signed by Executive Assistant Prosecutor Frank Puccio, the same person who signed the memorandum containing false statements.