Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Farber - Ledger - Probe to cost state $75K per month

Published in the Star-Ledger, Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Probe of Farber to cost the state $75,000 a month
Prosecutor examines AG's role in traffic stop

Star-Ledger Staff

The state's investigation into whether Attorney General Zulima Farber intervened in a traffic stop to help her boyfriend will cost taxpayers at least $460 an hour, but they will not have to pay for the private attorney representing her, officials said yesterday.

Gov. Jon Corzine, whose office appointed the special prosecutor, said he does not believe there is a spending cap on the investigation.

"Not that I'm aware of," Corzine said. "We need to do the job efficiently and thoroughly and fairly and do it as expeditiously as possible."

Special prosecutor Richard Williams is trying to determine whether Farber won favored treatment for her boyfriend, Hamlet Goore, when he was stopped by Fairview police officers during a Memorial Day weekend seat-belt check.

Williams has the authority to appoint as many attorneys and investigators as necessary to complete the probe. He has set up shop in the Division of Gaming Enforcement's Atlantic City office and hired two attorneys and two investigators. Williams said he would pay the attorneys the standard rate of $175 an hour and the investigators $55 an hour.

That works out to $18,400 a week, if they work eight-hour days, and a little less than $75,000 a month for a probe that officials said could take several months. It does not include expenses, nor any compensation that Williams, a retired Appellate Division judge, may receive. Williams said that has not been finalized but it would not exceed the going attorney's rate.

A spokesman for Corzine said yesterday that state taxpayers will not have to pay for Farber's private attorney, Gerald Krovatin.

"Our full expectation is that the attorney general will pay for her personal attorney herself," said the spokesman, Anthony Coley. "We don't expect taxpayers will foot the bill for this."

A spokesman for Farber declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. In the past, the attorney general has repeatedly said she did nothing wrong after arriving at the traffic stop in her state vehicle with State Police driver. Officers at the scene unsuccessfully tried to void the two tickets they had issued, and allowed Goore to drive his unregistered vehicle to the Bergen County home he shares with Farber. Goore later paid $66 to settle one ticket and is contesting the other.

Some Republicans yesterday repeated their calls for Farber's resignation over the incident.

"Not only has the entire credibility of the Attorney General's Office been jeopardized, but now the taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill for what surely will be a costly investigation," said Assemblyman Guy Gregg (R-Sussex).

Link to online story.

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Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.