CLARK — Several members of the Clark Township Council spoke out briefly this week for the first time in response to numerous allegations of misconduct that have been levied against Mayor Sal Bonaccorso, local officials and a number of high-ranking members of the township’s police department over the course of the past three years.
The 42-page report, which was released to the public on the same day that unrelated charges of fraud and misconduct were filed against Mayor Bonaccorso, includes strong recommendations from the Office of the Attorney General that two of the three officers — Chief Pedro Matos and Sergeant Joseph Teston — be fired from the force, and that a third — Captain Vincent Concina — be demoted before being allowed to return to active duty.
“None of us sitting up here condone the words that were heard on those recordings,” Council President Bill Smith said Monday, referencing a series of clandestine tapes that captured the mayor and other township officials using racist and derogatory language between 2017 and 2019. “It is important in such situations to navigate these decisions with transparency and accountability and a commitment to the welfare of this community.”
Mr. Smith’s comments, shared with the public during the governing body’s last regular meeting of the year on Monday, represented the council’s first official public acknowledgement of the recordings, which were leaked to the press in the spring of 2022.
The report also recommended that former Township Attorney Joseph Triarsi, who, according to the Attorney General, improperly brokered a settlement agreement between the township and one of its former police officers in 2019, be subject to review by the state Office of Attorney Ethics.
“The Clark Council was found to have acted appropriately on the recommendations of [Mr. Triarsi] and our insurance company in the matters that were investigated,” Mr. Smith said Monday, adding that the council’s recent decision to appoint a special mediation firm to handle the disciplinary hearings of the three police officers that were named in the report “reflects a commitment to justice and due process.
“As of today, we can assure that the council is focused on moving forward in the best interests of our citizens,” Mr. Smith said.
Several other sitting council members, includingAngelAlbanese, Patrick O’Connor and Frank Mazzarella, thanked Mr. Smith for his comments and continued leadership.
“This has been a rough year,” Mr. Mazzarella said.
Mayor Bonaccorso, who is now facing separate legal challenges related to his landscaping and underground-storage- tank-removal business, has not been in attendance at any of the council’s advertised meetings since the report was released.
“I wonder if Sal will even be coming to any more of these meetings,” resident Daniel Fuchs said, speaking during the public-comment portion of Monday night’s meeting. “I suppose not. But I do think he’s watching.”