After an exhaustive eighteen month investigation of Monmouth County Tax Administrator Matthew S. Clark, municipal tax assessors, and vendors with respect to the implementation of the Real Property Assessment Demonstration Program (ADP), the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has ended its investigation without the filing of any criminal charges.
The investigation was launched in response to allegations in an anonymous letter raising concerns about Clark and the ADP pilot tax program that was the result of legislation signed into law on January 25, 2013. The anonymous letter titled, “The Monmouth County Concerned Citizen Group Against Unfair Taxation ‘Who Fight for People’s Rights’” raised concerns about the ADP being implemented by the Monmouth County Tax Board (MCTB) under the guidance of Clark. More specifically, the letter criticized the ADP itself claiming it results in higher property taxes and alleged that Clark steered business generated by the ADP to Realty Appraisal Company (RAC) and Realty Data Systems (RDS), due to his personal relationships with the principals of those companies.
Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assisted the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) in its investigation into this matter. This investigation included the issuance of over 100 subpoenas to state, county, and municipal governments and agencies; financial institutions, and commercial entities. Specifically, all 53 municipalities in Monmouth County were served with a subpoena for records pertaining to the issues raised by the anonymous letter. Moreover, the MCPO, with the assistance of the FBI, interviewed over 40 witnesses and had contact with dozens more. Court orders and other formal legal processes were sought, obtained and executed. Overall, hundreds of thousands of pages of public documents and private records were reviewed.
After carefully analyzing and reviewing all of the information obtained, including the claims made in the anonymous letter, the MCPO determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the filing of criminal charges against any individual or entity to include Clark, RAC, RDS, or their principals.
As the ADP is law in the State of New Jersey, N.J.S.A. 54:1-101 et seq., an evaluation of the merits of the program is not within the province of the MCPO or FBI, whose objectives are to investigate and prosecute criminal offenses. Further, the MCPO’s determination does not affect any administrative action by other agencies. Today, the MCPO has made referrals to various agencies including to the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Division of Taxation; the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Office of Ethics Compliance; the New Jersey State Ethics Commission; the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller; and the Monmouth County Tax Board, for administrative review.
A link to the legislation creating the ADP may be found at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/PL13/15_.HTM
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