BRICK - An ex-employee of the township's Municipal Utilities Authority who charged he was wrongfully discharged after accusing a commissioner of trading MUA business for a private loan has agreed to a $250,000 settlement of his lawsuit, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by the Asbury Park Press.Scott Bundy, the former director of the MUA's central services, filed his claim against the MUA and Patrick Bottazzi, who has since left his commissioner's post.Bundy, Bottazzi and the MUA agreed to the settlement last month. The pair and MUA Chairman George Cevasco signed a confidentiality agreement and admitted no liability or wrongdoing. Attorney Kevin Costello, who represents Bundy, declined to comment. An attorney for the MUA did not return a call for comment.In the lawsuit, Bundy accused Bottazzi of soliciting and receiving a loan from Crown Bank in 2010 in exchange for moving the MUA's $36 million in accounts from TD Bank to Crown Bank.In September 2010, the MUA appointed Crown Bank as its depositor. Two days later, Bottazzi received a $1.5 million loan from Crown Bank for his Red Lion Tavern, according to county records. In 2012, the tavern was closed, the building was demolished, and the loan was repaid. Bottazzi said in a 2013 interview, after the lawsuit was filed, that he had done nothing wrong.
Former Brick, NJ, Municipal Utilities Authority employee Scott Bundy got a $250,000 settlement after charging he was wrongfully fired after reporting a commissioner's alleged wrongdoing to the FBI
Bundy, believing Bottazzi's actions to be illegal and against public policy, reported Bottazzi to MUA auditor Frank Holman and the FBI in 2010, according to the lawsuit.Bundy alleged Bottazzi retaliated by striking a deal with former Commissioner Joseph Veni to terminate Bundy's job. In exchange, Veni remained chairman of the Board of Commissioners, according to the lawsuit. The FBI's policy is not to comment on such claims.In early 2012, according to the lawsuit, Bottazzi filed personnel charges against Bundy. About four months later, Bundy's authority was reduced and the Information Technology Department was removed from his control. Shortly thereafter, he was fired from his $119,654-per-year job.A public problem?John Paff, chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project, said such settlements create an atmosphere of secrecy and keep the public ignorant of how their tax dollars are spent. Paff has been following and blogging about the progress of Bundy's lawsuit since it was filed.
“These claims are pretty serious," said Paff. “Some government taxpayer somewhere is paying for this.”Settlements like these, he said, protect public employees at the expense of taxpayers.“Everything’s hushed by terms of the agreement," said Paff. “The only purpose of these confidentially agreements, as far as I can see, is to suppress the truth.”Amanda Oglesby: 732-557-5701; firstname.lastname@example.org
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