Senator Says There’s Too Many Questions About Hiring, Job Responsibilities for Official Given Immunity from Prosecution for Cooperating in Bryant Corruption Case
TRENTON – State Senator Loretta Weinberg yesterday filed a number of OPRA requests in order to get information regarding the employment of John Crosbie, a cooperating witness who received an immunity deal from then-US Attorney Chris Christie for his role in the corruption bust of former Senator Wayne Bryant, and who, until recently, was earning a six-figure salary within the Christie administration.
“The entire handling of this situation leaves far too many unanswered questions,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “We don’t know who was responsible for hiring John Crosbie, whether or not they knew of his past dealings with the US Attorney’s office, or what his exact job responsibilities were within the Department of Health. Given Mr. Crosbie’s past missteps to help cover up Senator Bryant’s low-show job at UMDNJ, I think the questions about his employment demand answers.”
In 2008, John Crosbie was a top administrator at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) when then-US Attorney Chris Christie offered him an immunity deal to avoid prosecution if he testified against Senator Wayne Bryant and former UMDNJ dean Michael Gallagher regarding the corruption case in which Bryant and Gallagher were found guilty of conspiring to inflate Bryant’s salary and pension credits from a low-show job at the University. Last July, Crosbie was hired by the State Department of Health and Senior Services to serve as the executive director of three state commissions studying brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and autism. Crosbie earned a salary of $110,000 a year for his work in the Christie administration. When word got out earlier this week about Crosbie’s new career, he promptly resigned.
In her OPRA requests to the Department of Health, the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research, the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research and the Governor’s Council for the Medical Research and Treatment of Autism, Senator Weinberg requested a wide variety of information including: information pertaining to his hiring with the Department of Health and his resignation; his job responsibilities and work product while working as executive director of the three state agencies; his correspondence on behalf of the agencies; and a list of grants and appropriations from the three organizations while Mr. Crosbie worked there.
Senator Weinberg noted that with Crosbie’s past transgressions on behalf of Senator Bryant – whether he was prosecuted or not – there should have been firewalls in place to prevent his hiring in a capacity that oversaw State grants and taxpayer dollars.
“I don’t begrudge Mr. Crosbie for trying to earn a living, but after he played a significant role in bilking the taxpayers through Senator Bryant’s low-show employment scam, he should have been prohibited from working with taxpayers’ money ever again,” said Senator Weinberg. “We need to examine the records regarding his work product and grant information to make sure that he wasn’t once again playing fast and loose with the taxpayers’ trust. We also need to understand the breakdown in oversight that allowed an admitted participant in a scheme to defraud the State’s taxpayers to earn a six-figure public salary, and make sure that we’re a little more careful in the future about who we hire to high-paying State jobs.”