Updated with Panter’s response…
Charles Webster, spokesperson for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office issued the following statement to MMM regarding our stories today about former Assemblyman Michael Panter’s allegations against Monmouth County Freeholder John P. Curley:
Some corrections are necessary for the story published today concerning Mr. Panter’s assertions regarding Realty Data Systems and Freeholder John Curley.
At the outset, it is important to note that Mr. Panter was previously advised that the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office would refer any allegation concerning Freeholder John Curley to the state Attorney General’s Office. It is common for County Prosecutors to make such referrals to avoid any potential conflict of interest due to the fact that Freeholders serve as a funding source for County Prosecutors’ Offices.
The fact that the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office forwarded this matter to the Attorney General does not in any way indicate that our office has concluded that these allegations have or do not have any merit.
It is also asserted by Mr. Panter in the article that the “FBI and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office have conducted at least five interviews into the conduct of Freeholder John P. Curley and former Monmouth County Counsel Timothy B. Middleton, Esq.” That is inaccurate – the MCPO referred the allegations to the state Attorney General’s Office and did not conduct any investigation into the conduct of Freeholder Curley or former County Counsel Middleton.
Panter responded with the following statement:
If the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office deems there to be a conflict given Mr. Curley’s position which requires referral to the Attorney General, I respect that position.
I was questioned by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the FBI re: John Curley and Tim Middleton, as was another member of my firm, two municipal officials and a private citizen. In fact, the Prosecutor’s Office notified me that detectives had tracked down that private citizen, to ascertain if his name was signed to a document believed to be authored by Mr. Middleton.
I was further notified that the FBI was involved given Mr. Curley’s position as a county official.
Following the conclusion of the investigation instigated by Mr. Curley, I was told in writing that law enforcement would be “very limited” in discussing any further investigation or developments re: Mr. Curley and Mr. Middleton with my office. I respected and understood that position.
If they do not deem the above facts to constitute an investigation, I assume that to mean that the Attorney General’s Office is the appropriate agency.
We will be happy to cooperate with any parties investigating these matters.