The needler in the haystack.

Monday, May 9, 2016

After five years, Elizabeth school lunch case moves to trial

Cranford attorney Frank Capece, longtime associate of former
Union County Dem powerhouse Charlotte DeFilipo, faces trial
in the Elizabeth free school lunch caper...

... along with former Board Attorney Kirk Nelson of Roselle,
whose trial begins this morning. (Photos, Star-Ledger.)

After five years, two attorneys caught up in the Elizabeth school lunch case are finally coming to trial. Plainfielders with long memories will recall that one of the lawyers, Frank Capece, was a close associate of former Union County Democratic chair Charlotte DeFilippo. Today's Ledger story on the matter is here.

DeFilippo was also chair of the Union County Improvement Authority, which has been involved in numerous Plainfield projects, including the County Office Building, the BUF Early Learning Center and the (former) Central Jersey Arts Charter School.

Capece, who served as an outside attorney for the Elizabeth school board, and Kirk Nelson, a Roselle lawyer who was the board attorney at the time are accused of removing a fraudulent free lunch application for then-Board member Juan Donoso's child from the records supplied to the State Police to comply with its subpoena of documents relating to the case.

The state alleges that after the State Police reviewed the records, Capece and Nelson replaced Donoso's records back into the files. The Donoso child was also allegedly switched in the free lunch program's computer system from "free" to "paid" lunch.

Though originally scheduled to be tried together, a Union County judge has severed the cases. Nelson goes on trial today; Capece's trial will follow Nelson's.

Donoso has yet to come to trial. Can you hear the canaries singing?

As a result of the school lunch investigation, the Elizabeth Board of Ed reimbursed the federal free lunch program $182,000 for meals for the school board charged to the program over six years, and an additional $90,000 in catering food for principals and administrators spent over several years.

The wheels of justice grind, as they say, slowly.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.