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Monday, December 26, 2011

Will Investors Bank prosecute Mayor Robinson-Briggs?

Was the bank defrauded by issuing the $15,000 check for one purpose
and having it used by Mayor Robinson-Briggs for another?
Whether Investors Savings Bank (ISB), which donated $15,000 for Plainfield's 2010 July 4th celebrations, will prosecute Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs over her disposition of the check it issued is one of the unanswered questions surrounding the investigation into the funding of the August 1, 2010 radio broadcast of Her Honor's community forum.

At issue is whether Mayor Robinson-Briggs' statements concerning obtaining the check and its ultimate disposition constituted defrauding Investors Savings Bank.

What we know from the City Council's Independent Counsel's published report (see the complete document online here) are the following --

  • Caren Fisher of the Plainfield branch of Investors Savings Bank (ISB) said the funds were 'earmarked for the July 4th sponsorship' and that there was 'no mention of using these funds for the sponsorship of the WBLS event' (page 11);

  • Former City Administrator Bibi Taylor stated the check 'was dedicated to the July 4th sponsorship and therefore could not be used for the WBLS event' (page 10);

  • Mayor Robinson-Briggs testified that she 'spoke to a representative of ISB and indicated they (meaning Her Honor) would like to use the donation for an upcoming event' (page 6);

  • Counsel Rivera indicates his office's conversation with Ms. Fisher of ISB indicated the check 'was submitted to the City to be used specifically for the July 4th events which they had agreed to sponsor (page 6).
With Investor Savings Bank's Ms. Fisher stating only that the bank had proferred the funds as sponsorship of July 4th celebrations and had not agreed to Mayor Robinson-Briggs' switching of the use of the funds to the WBLS radio broadcast, the question arises as to whether Robinson-Briggs intended to defraud Investors Savings Bank.

One online legal dictionary offers this definition of 'defraud' -- use deceit, falsehoods, or trickery to obtain money, an object, rights or anything of value belonging to another... (see here).
-- but note that a court of law would have to decide whether Mayor Robinson-Briggs used 'deceit, falsehoods, or trickery' to obtain the $15,000.

One thing for sure is that Robinson-Briggs would have to produce convincing evidence in a courtroom for her assertion that an employee of ISB had agreed to the switch -- most likely the person themself, under oath -- and not just Her Honor's say-so.

But I don't think Mayor Robinson-Briggs is going to need to worry her little head over the matter.


Because, despite whatever they may believe about the truth of the matter, neither the City Council nor the public has any legal standing in the matter. If anyone was harmed, it would have to be Investors Savings Bank, and the bank would have to prosecute Mayor Robinson-Briggs, which I think highly unlikely.

For two reasons --

  • First, there are rumors that officials of the Bank would just like the whole issue 'to go away' since it is an embarrassment of a high order; and

  • Second, the bank -- now New Jersey's third largest -- is in a high-growth mode, involving purchases of other banking businesses (read about the most recent purchase of a Brooklyn-based bank here), and doesn't need any sticky items for bank regulators to ask questions about as expected future purchases are under review.
So, apart from publicly embarrassing herself and the City of Plainfield, my guess is that Mayor Robinson-Briggs will face no legal penalty for her actions.

Does this mean she will not be seen as trying another fast one in the future?

I wouldn't go so far as to say that.

Along with its growth, Investors has changed its name in a rebranding move.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

Off With her Worthless head.

Bob Bolmer

Anonymous said...

Citizens should transfer their accounts out of Investors and when asked why, siply state "For using my money to give to Al Sharpton!"

Anonymous said...

If the $20,000.00 that ISB donated to sponsor the 4th of July Fireworks was not used for the fireworks then how were the fireworks paid for? If the monies were taken from City funds without approval, then the Plainfield taxpayers are victims of SRB's fraud and the City Council should be filing criminal charges against her.

Anonymous said...

Bet they won't "invest" in Plainfield again!

GB said...

The penalty none the less will be that NO other Bank, Corporation or Charity will want to take a chance in "Helping" Plainfield. Good Luck to the King's Daughters, Drake House etc.

Dan said...

@ 10:10 AM -- Investors did NOT give $20,000. It was $15,000. Neither the bank nor Mayor Robinson-Briggs has provided any paperwork on how the request for sponsor support was made.

The July 4th acitivities were funded by the City through the Rec Division, and are not the question here.

The issue is taking the bank's money and using it for a purpose other than what the bank believed it was going to....

Dan said...

@ 9:27 AM -- The money wasn't given to Rev. Sharpton. It was paid to Inner City Broadcasting, the parent corporation for WBLS/WLIB, for the broadcast (and a number of spot ads that were broadcast in the runup to the event).

Whatever the arrangements were between the station and Sharpton are unknown to me, and not part of this story.

As the Council has repeatedly made clear, the issue is not in broadcasting the Town Hall meeting, but in the way the Mayor funded it.

Anonymous said...

Gee Dan. . . . what was that all about . . .give it a break!

jim spear

Anonymous said...

So, the mayor has a friend in the 2nd Ward, Mr. Spear? Hmmm.

Deborah Dowe said...

That definition of "defraud" is a good explanation of why Muhlenberg's assets are in control of, and for the primary benefit of, people with a committment to Middlesex County and Edison.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dan, Plainfield will never get another PENNY from banks again.

What the New Dem's fail to realize that all this do is make it BAD forthe next MAYOR of PLAINFIELD.


Anonymous said...

Well Adrian, Rebecca , Cory and their New Dem flock keep telling us that we are ALL DEMOCRATS and that we should support each other. Or did I get that wrong?

It's kind of like what Newt says about Ronny Reagan's 11th commandment, 'thou shall not bad mouth a fellow Republican'.....did I get that right?

And yes like a good Democrat I voted for the Mayor in the election. They told me that's what I was suppose to do. . . at least I thought they told me that, I think they told me that, gosh, I am sooo confused!

jim spear

Dan said...

@ 12:34 PM -- You can't know that.

Banks (especially if they hold $29 million in a city's deposits) like to be seen as community supporters -- which is what the money was intended for in the first place.

What you are arguing is that honesty is not only not the best policy, it isn't even a good policy.

Hopefully, the next mayor will be a very, very different person, without all the baggage the current one has brought to the city's highest office.

Dan said...

Jim -- Back in 1996, there was a man who was unhappy with things as he found them, just as you seem to be. Al McWilliams, tho, had a positive vision; he was intensely interested in seeing economic development in downtown Plainfield and believed that it would benefit the entire community.

He had no money, no standing politically, no vendor backing, no experience in government.

But he did have two things: A determination to get something done, and a group of friends and acquaintances who rallied to the cause.

It took years to achieve just some of his goals, and the New Dems have continued to carry his standard forward.

That is the way things get done.

The question is not whether anybody told you to do or support anything or anyone.

The question is, When are you going to try changing things for the better?

If there is nothing or no one that suits you, when are you going to rally others around you to strike off in the direction YOU think is important and worthwhile for the whole community?

Anonymous said...

Does Jim Spear realize that the issue is that the mayor did something illegal? I don't think from his comments that he understands the issue. Sounds like he is just bitter, but I don't know about what.