An Investigation into Hopatcong's Recreation Department finds Verifiable Evidence on Five Serious Allegations that show Misconduct, Mismanagement and Gross Negligence.
Finding the Truth for our 35,000+ Local Readers around the lake:
Click on the Red Underlined Areas to view Verifiable Documents.
Over the last two years, community readers have expressed numerous concerns about potential illegal activities and abuse of power within the Hopatcong Recreation Department. Although we always believed Hopatcong to have a good Recreation Program, we conducted an investigative report to try and find the truth behind these serious allegations.
We started our three-month investigation by requesting several hundred pages of documents through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). These documents have been obtained from all levels including Local, County and State, as they dealt with specifically the Hopatcong Recreation Department and Hopatcong Recreation Coordinator “Catherine Millian” (Millian).
Investigation finds Multiple Allegations Against Millian:
- The NJ State Civil Service Commission found Millian clearly NOT qualified for this position
- Millian has sold Sussex County goods for protentional personal gain
- Millian uses a personal credit card to have items shipped to her home address deemed illegal by New Jersey State Law
- Millian hired a family member and granted her an 18% pay raise within 28 days of employment
- Millian failed to file the mandatory permits and parade paperwork five times over the last two years that exposed Hopatcong Employees and Residents to great risk at public events (including public safety and liability).
Allegation #1: Millian Not Qualified for the Position:
Based on the information we received, Millian was declared not qualified for the position of Recreation Coordinator (6/3/2016) based upon the New Jersey Civil Service documents. This illegibility extends even after Millian appeals the decision as the NJ State Civil Service continued to deem her not qualified for the position. According to the NJ State Civil Service Commision, two other candidates were running for the position that could have been considered. Based on our OPRA requests, we were not able to find any records related to interviewing of the other two candidates.
End Result: Since Millian was not Qualified by the NJ State Civil Service, the Borough stepped outside of the NJ Civil Services requirements and created a unique TEMPORARY job to hire Millian.
Allegation #2: Selling Goods to Seniors without Authorization for Profit (Pizza Gate)
Multiple Seniors within the Hopatcong Community informed the Hopatcong Lake Regional News of the “Pizza Gate Issue.” The County of Sussex supplied pizza lunches that were being sold for profit under the supervision of Millian. According to multiple seniors, the Senior Lunch program sold extra pizza for Seniors to take home. We verified this incident through the following letter of reprimand from Sussex County that states that items sold for profit must be repaid to the State. In researching the budget history of the Recreation Department, we were not able to find any repayments to Sussex County for the pizza sold.
Allegation #3: Unlawful Use of Personal Credit Card for Borough Purchases
The New Jersey State Law is VERY clear that PERSONAL CREDIT CARDS can never be used for any purchases, since it negates the overall purchasing process and doesn’t leverage the Borough or State purchasing power, and it also circumvents the beneficial tax-exempt status for state purchases.
Through the OPRA process, we were able to obtain multiple occurrences for $1,000’s of dollars of purchases where Millian used a personal credit card to have items shipped directly to her home. While these purchases were targeted for the Borough, they were purchased and shipped to her home residence according to State Law.
NJ AU-98-1: Local Government Unit Use of Credit Cards
The use of bank or travel and entertainment credit cards (hereinafter, credit cards) by local government units is not permitted. More specifically, the opinion states: "conclusion, for the reasons set forth above, you are advised that local government units may not utilize bank or "travel and entertainment" credit cards to purchase goods and services."
"Therefore, any local unit that is utilizing bank or ’’travel and entertainment” credit cards must now cease their use immediately, and cancel the cards and accounts."
Allegation #4: Hiring & Supervising Close Relatives
NJ State Law is very clear in the fact that you are unable to hire or supervise family for a position that you manage. Which is what occurred when Millian hired a close relative “Nicole Millian” on a position within the department that she supervised. Millian also presented this relative a raise of 18% within 28 days of hire. According to NJ State Law, you are not able to hire a relative.
Form NJ: Uniform Ethics Code
#7. No State officer or employee or special State officer or employee may supervise his/her relative, or exercise any authority with regard to personnel actions involving his/her relative.
Allegation #5: Failure to File Mandatory Permits & Parade Paperwork
All Parades held within the Hopatcong Borough need a permit to be filed with Sussex County by law if a County Road is occupied. Over the last two years, Millian only submitted paperwork for one of the total six different Parades that occurred. This not only made these five Parade events illegal in the eyes of the State but also may have failed to provide the necessary insurance coverage for the Hopatcong and Sussex counties employees and the residents attending the event.
If an unfortunate accident occurred at any one of these events, insurance coverage would be questionable since the event was not legally conducted and scheduled to take place. According to our calls to multiple Insurance organizations, it is possible that this would be considered a claims coverage question that would have to be reviewed, or could be fully denied. Which indicates that Hopatcong Tax Payers may have to foot the bill for any and all damages.
OPRA Requests for 2016 Parades:
- Memorial Day Parade 2016, Held on May 28, 2016 (Permit Not Submitted)
- Hopatcong Days 2016: Held on July 9, 2016 (Complete)
- Halloween Parade 2016: Held on October 16, 2016 (Permit Not Submitted)
OPRA Requests for 2017 Parades:
- Memorial Day Parade 2017, Held on May 27, 2017 (Permit Not Submitted)
- Hopatcong Days 2017: Held on July 8, 2017 (Permit Not Submitted)
- Halloween Parade 2017: Held on October 15, 2017 (Permit Not Submitted)
As we conclude our investigation, it seems clear that their multiple concerns in Hopatcong Borough’s appointed head of Recreation. Through our initial fact-finding initiatives, Millian was clearly not qualified according to NJ STATE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISION, she violated multiple state ordinances and exposed Hopatcong Employees and Residents to great risk at public events (including public safety and liability).
Hopatcong Lake Regional News feels that as your primary news service for the local area, we need to bring these facts to your attention. In addition, since this seems to be a pattern with Millian. We are looking for your insight into other areas of Millian’s past conduct in organizations where she has volunteered.
If you have any additional information regarding these allegations and want to confidentially voice your concerns, we ask that you contact the following.
Hopatcong Lake Regional News
Note: Both parties will keep all your personal information confidential as they help us find the truth for the Hopatcong Borough and enhance our overall community.
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