Monday, August 07, 2006

Farber - Courier - Questions abound in probe

Published in the Courier News, Monday, August 7, 2006

Questions abound in probe of Farber

The Associated Press

TRENTON -- New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber says she was only coming to the aid of a loved one when she showed up at the scene of her live-in boyfriend's traffic stop this spring.

Police at the scene think she was doing more than offering a lift to her longtime beau.

As a special prosecutor appointed by the governor investigates the matter, here are some of the key questions he's likely to examine:
  • Did Farber, who oversees the state police, use her influence to get special treatment for her boyfriend, Hamlet Goore?

  • Was it improper for Farber to show up to the scene in her official state car?

  • Did her state police driver give police instructions to stop the tow and/or get rid of the tickets, and if so, did Farber authorize it?

  • Should Farber have accepted an offer from police to let her boyfriend drive his minivan home despite a suspended license and lapsed registration?

  • Did police act unethically in letting Goore drive away from the scene and by later trying to void his tickets?

  • Was it unethical for Farber to call a friend at the Motor Vehicle Commission to alert the agency that her boyfriend would be contacting it to straighten things out?
Farber, a longtime Democrat and the state's former public advocate, admits making a mistake by going to the stop but says she never did anything to interfere with situation.

"I asked for no favors. I wanted no favors," she told NJN's "On the Record."

Farber, 61, has said she won't resign, and Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said he won't pass judgment on Farber until after the investigation by retired Appellate Judge Richard J. Williams.

The special prosecutor is charged with determining whether Farber, as the state's highest-ranking law enforcement officer, "sought or received any favorable treatment and whether any person involved in this matter violated the law."

Williams won't comment on the status of the investigation or estimate how long it will take. To expedite things, he has hired two attorneys at $175 an hour and two investigators at $55 an hour to help, which is more state-funded manpower than some capital case defendants receive.

Meanwhile, the investigation has pitted police at the scene against the state's top cop. Attorneys for the police officers say the officers believed they were getting directions to stop the tow from Farber through her state police driver. Farber says she never said or did anything to interfere.

Police in Fairview stopped Goore's minivan at a seat belt checkpoint May 26. He called Farber, who was driven to the site in her state car. The minivan, it turned out, had an expired registration, and a computer check showed Goore's license was suspended.

Before Farber arrived, police wrote 65-year-old Goore two tickets -- one for driving on a suspended license and one for having an expired vehicle registration -- and a tow truck was on the way to take his minivan.

After Farber arrived, police tried to void the tickets, and Goore was allowed to drive his vehicle back to his home, with Farber and her driver following behind.

Less than 30 minutes after Goore left the traffic stop, his license suspension was lifted.

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.