Oceanport police punt records destruction investigation to school lawyer

Prosecutor’s office declines to pursue charges against a records custodian, despite a certified statement by a subsequent custodian that the prior custodian destroyed public records without authorization. -NJFOG

Nov. 25, 2015
by John Paff
NJ Open Government Notes
(John’s blog entry is re-posted below.)

On February 17, 2015, I asked Detective Gregory A. Lauretta, Jr. of the Oceanport (Monmouth County) Police Department to consider bringing criminal charges against former Oceanport School Business Administrator Norma M. Tursi.  I based my request on a September 17, 2014 sworn certification by current School Business Administrator Dennis W. Kotch in which he said that Tursi ordered that various Board records be shredded despite the fact that “appropriate forms for the destruction of records were not submitted to the New Jersey Division of Asset [sic] and Record Management and that no records of what was destroyed were kept.”  I pointed out that Tursi’s actions may have violated the Destruction of Public Records Law, N.J.S.A. 47:3­-29, which states that any person who “defaces, mutilates or destroys with malicious intent any public record shall be guilty of a high misdemeanor.”

In response to my request for the status of the investigation, Detective Lauretta said that the matter was “referred over to the Board of Education’s Attorney, Armen McOmber [who] would then follow up on this incident and decide what action to take, if any.”

I take this to mean that the police will not be filing criminal charges against Tursi.