Burry on Mallet: “She’s a fraud, she a fraud, a fraud, fraud, fraud!”
Former Freeholder Amy Mallett, a Democrat, laid the blame for the Brookdale Community College scandal that lead to former college president Peter Burnham pleading to guilty to theft by deception and official misconduct earlier this week at the feet of the Monmouth GOP’s “cozy” relationship, “Club Monmouth” with the leadership of college.
In an OpEd piece published in The
Asbury Park Press, Mallet took aim at Republican Freeholder Lillian Burry and her campaign treasurer, John Cantolupo who was the Brookdale Board of Trustees’ lawyer at the time Burnham’s lavish contract and spending irregularities were uncovered.
Making matters worse, the attorney serving as general counsel for Brookdale and responsible for the president’s employment contract was John Cantalupo, who also served as Freeholder Lillian Burry’s campaign treasurer and was well known in Republican circles. Since I did not attend their events and fundraisers, I was initially unaware of the connections.
Burry had served as the freeholder board’s liaison to Brookdale, and voted numerous times as a member of the Board of School Estimate, creating a huge conflict of interest.
Her unwavering support of Burnham and the trustees only broke down under political pressure when she admitted in her words to “drinking the Kool-Aid.”
“She’s a fraud! A fraud, fraud, fraud,” said Burry when asked for comment on Mallet’s column, “she failed to mention that John D’Amico and Barbara McMarrow (former Democratic freeholders) were also on the School Board of Estimate approving those budgets while Burnham’s crimes were taking place. John D’Amico was a big supporter of Burnham.”
“We all got taken by Burnham,” Burry said, “especially and unfortunately the students.”
Mallet takes credit for uncovering the scandal:
Things began to unfold early last year when I made the unusual request of seeing the full line-item budget. I started on page one, the President’s Office, which included extraordinary expenses, sending up a red flag. I began seeking answers on how this all comes together, as I was not the freeholder liaison to Brookdale. I demanded to see the last 10 years’ minutes of the annual budget meetings, employment contracts and trustee meeting minutes (which were released after some resistance). After reviewing years of material, I was able to connect some of the dots.
“They’re tripping over themselves with their grandstanding, trying to get credit for something they had nothing to do with,” Burry said of Mallet and Curley, “County Administrator Teri O’Connor and Director of Finance Craig Marshall got the line by line budget from from Brookdale and Burnham’s contract was leaked to the press by a woman scorned.”
Responding to Mallet’s column and unaware of Burry’s comments, Curley said, “That’s bull. I met with Burnham and he wouldn’t give me the line by line budget. I then asked Teri O’Connor, the administrator and Craig Marshall, our CFO, to get it for me, which they did. Burnham’s contract was leaked to me and I gave it to Nina Rizzo from the Asbury Park Press.”
“I got the information out to the press and to the prosecutor,” Curley said.
When told of Burry’s comment, Curley said, “That’s unfortunate that Lillian said that. God bless her.”
Burry and Curley agree that Mallet misrepresented her own application to serve on the Brookdale Board. Mallet wrote:
I submitted my own resume to be considered for a seat on the Brookdale board of trustees, where there were recently two open seats. My background as a freeholder, combined with my inquiries on Brookdale, gave me a unique perspective and familiarity with the workings of the college.
The party-approved seats were filled, and the Republicans retain control by limiting access to those most loyal to their inner circle. There is now another open seat on the board of trustees. Rather than the common-sense approach of reaching out to recent applicants, the freeholders quietly issued a press release with a one-week application deadline. It was simply window dressing, since they most likely have their choice lined up.
“She was a freeholder when she applied and the rules are that we don’t appoint elected officials to the board,” said Burry, “applicants are screened by others before the Freeholder Board makes the appointments. Amy’s application never made it to the Freeholders because she was a sitting freeholder.
“There is a bi-partisan screening committee, Democrats and Republicans, who screen applicants for the Brookdale Board,” said Curley, “Amy didn’t make the cut.”
Burry said she was more disappointed than angry with Mallet. “I had really hoped she would go out with her held high, instead of wallowing in the gutter like she certainly is now. I think she’s being used by Vin Gopal (Monmouth County Democratic Chairman). If she really wants to make a difference, why isn’t she a candidate?