New York

I-Team: Ex-Security Director at North Bergen Housing Authority Fired Amid Corruption Probe, Makes His Own Allegations of Corruption

After being fired from the North Bergen Housing Authority amid a corruption probe, the former top security officer at the agency is now making corruption allegations of his own against the top ranks of the housing authority.

Geoffrey Santini alleges in a lawsuit there were "unlawful practices" at the housing authority, including not following Housing and Urban Development policies when it comes to awarding housing to needy families off waiting lists. Six other current and former insiders, who first raised questions about Santini’s alleged misconduct, have also claimed that political supporters of Mayor Nicholas Sacco and NBHA workers were given apartments ahead of those in need on the long waiting list.

Sacco has denied the allegation.

"There is no truth that apartments were given out politically – no truth whatsoever to that," the mayor said. "Whoever said that, and I know who that was, basically lied." 

Carleen Earl, former deputy director at NBHA, stepped forward publicly after being fired in what she says was retaliation by NBHA officials for raising corruption concerns. 

"The politics of moving people in and skipping people on the list – it was just getting out of control," Earl said.

Santini was fired after Earl and five others raised no-show job allegations against him. Santini denies any wrongdoing, and insists that housing administrators and NBHA board members – some appointed by Sacco – knew he had several other jobs. In addition to his full-time housing security job, Santini worked part-time with Freeholder Anthony Vainieri, worked as a Hudson County constable, served as a health inspector in Weehawken and had contracts to be the animal control officer in six different New Jersey towns.

Santini also claims that housing officials signed off on giving him a small apartment, buying him furniture, and allowing him to use a taxpayer-funded SUV 24/7 because he was on call as a security officer. He said it was NBHA’s bosses who engaged in HUD waiting list violations, obstructrion of drug testing and illegal constructions. 

An NBHA spokesman said,  "The North Bergen Housing Authority denies the allegations being made by Santini in this retaliatory lawsuit and we will vigourously defend against it in court."

The mayor also seemed to question Santini’s motives and veracity. 

"He’s been terminated and he’s fighting back," said Sacco. "I have a lot of faith they didn’t do anything wrong however that will all be decided in court."

The mayor said despite allegations of misconduct by Santini when he worked at the NBHA, he said he still supports Santini having a $160,000 contract as North Bergen’s animal control officer.

“He can reached any time night or day so I feel very confident that he does a great job and I don’t see the two are intertwined.”

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