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07-20-2003, 09:29 AM
Troubled parole board gets shake-up
Friday, July 18, 2003
The Bergen Record By RANDY DIAMOND

On the same day that Governor McGreevey named a retired judge to be the new chairman of the troubled state Parole Board, officials revealed Thursday that the son-in-law of the acting chairman has been reassigned because he was unqualified.

Acting Chairman William McCargo's son-in-law, Christopher Williams, lacked the required college degree and three years of executive experience when he was hired in June 1999 to interview juvenile offenders and make recommendations about their possible paroles. Now earning $61,000, he previously was a full-time hood technician at a Jiffy Lube.

McCargo was one of two board members to review Williams' parole recommendations, a potential conflict being investigated by the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards.

Williams has been assigned to administrative duties and will not decide paroles, but he is keeping his salary for the time being, said Michael Dowling, executive director of the board.

Dowling said he is also reviewing the qualifications of several other board employees, including parole counselor Michael Brown, a nephew of McCargo's who interviewed inmates and prepared files for hearing officers. Brown also lacks the proper credentials for his position, Dowling said, but a decision on his assignment is on hold pending a full review.

Dowling said he will take further action shortly and is considering demoting all employees who do not have the proper job credentials.

"Hiring rules were very lax in the past," said Dowling.

A review of résumés by The Record found that eight of the 52 hearing officers working for the board do not have the required college degrees or equivalent experience, including Patrick Snyder, a former legislative aide to state Sen. William Gormley. Snyder, who makes $81,000 drawing up release plans for inmates at the Atlantic County Jail, did not return several phone calls about his qualifications.

McCargo remains on the board as a holdover even though his appointment expired in 2002. For some state offices, including Parole Board members, gubernatorial appointees continue to serve after their appointments expire until a new appointment is made.

The employee actions came as McGreevey named retired Superior Court John D'Amico to the board's top spot. D'Amico is expected to take over as acting chairman later this summer, and McGreevey said he has the necessary experience to lead the 700-employee agency.

"I am confident that his judgments will prove to be fair, sound, and wise when determining an individual's eligibility for parole,'' McGreevey said in a statement.

A state grand jury has been investigating the Parole Board's release last year of Angelo Prisco, an alleged capo in the Genovese crime family. He was suddenly released from prison after two earlier denials of parole.

One board member has said that he was asked by former Parole Board Chairman Mario Paparozzi to reverse his earlier denial of parole for Prisco. The board member said Paparozzi told him the governor's office wanted the decision reversed, a charge McGreevey vehemently denies.