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Ethics probe opened over attorneys' actions in Wayne energy project

In March, Brennan filed a complaint asking The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards to consider questions about Rumana's role as an elected official and WEC chairman. Brennan complained there was a "series of conflicts" in Rumana's multiple roles.

WAYNE - The state Supreme Court's Office of Attorney Ethics has opened an investigation into whether two attorneys involved in the township's stalled alternative energy project acted in a conflict of interest.

The court received a grievance from Township Council candidate William Brennan and Wayne Auto Spa owner Robert Burke in September alleging that attorneys William Northgrave and Mark Semeraro both represented two parties with adverse interest in the Wayne Energy Corp. deal.

Both attorneys are partners at Newark-based McManimon & Scotland. Northgrave represented both the township and WEC, a non-profit group proposing the "green" energy project, and Semeraro was the township attorney at the same time, Brennan's grievance says.

"The investigation is under way and we have a docket number," said Brennan on Friday. "Once you have a docket number, a finding of facts must be issued."

An official with the Office of Attorney Ethics declined comment Friday.

Northgrave and Semeraro could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

The proposal was innovative in combining energy sources including solar, a gas-fired cogeneration plant and a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

WAYNE - The state Supreme Court's Office of Attorney Ethics has opened an investigation into whether two attorneys involved in the township's stalled alternative energy project acted in a conflict of interest.

The court received a grievance from Township Council candidate William Brennan and Wayne Auto Spa owner Robert Burke in September alleging that attorneys William Northgrave and Mark Semeraro both represented two parties with adverse interest in the Wayne Energy Corp. deal.

Both attorneys are partners at Newark-based McManimon & Scotland. Northgrave represented both the township and WEC, a non-profit group proposing the "green" energy project, and Semeraro was the township attorney at the same time, Brennan's grievance says.

"The investigation is under way and we have a docket number," said Brennan on Friday. "Once you have a docket number, a finding of facts must be issued."

An official with the Office of Attorney Ethics declined comment Friday.

Northgrave and Semeraro could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

The proposal was innovative in combining energy sources including solar, a gas-fired cogeneration plant and a geothermal system to heat and cool township buildings and nearby schools and was expected to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent.

But the state Board of Public Utilities in April denied approval of an agreement under which the township would buy energy from the WEC, saying that it exposed the township to unreasonable risk and contained other procedural flaws.

The grievance by Brennan and Burke alleges that neither of the attorneys "put forth an explanation required by state officials" about those concerns, and a previously approved $2.2 million grant to the township was revoked.

The BPU also said there was an appearance of a conflict of interest by former Mayor and current Assemblyman Scott Rumana, who spearheaded the proposal.

In March, Brennan filed a complaint asking The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards to consider questions about Rumana's role as an elected official and WEC chairman. Brennan complained there was a "series of conflicts" in Rumana's multiple roles. State law bans legislators from representing interests other than the state's before a state agency.


Source: http://www.northjersey.com/...

OCT 29 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/28651-ethics-probe-opened-over-attorneys-actions-in-wayne-energy-project
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