Hudson County Judge & ex-FBI Director share an ‘apologetic’ bond
Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mirtha Ospina and former FBI Director James Comey share an odd bond – apologizing to victims of the Sheas (Jim & Kim, respectively).
“Lastly, I must say that I wanted to come back with this decision yesterday,” Hudson County Superior Judge Mirtha Ospina stated on October 12, 2018, while reading her acquittal of Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) Officer Michael O’Neill for an alleged off-duty conspiracy totaling $400.
“This court, Officer O’Neill, apologizes to you for taking this one additional day it took to reach this decision,” Ospina continued. “That you had to undergo for the past two years of this ordeal to come to an end, at least to an end in criminal court.”
That “ordeal” was the result of a “100-count indictment” led by Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea to protect Mayor Steven Fulop’s political interests. Fulop actually boasted about it at the time, saying he was “thankful for the partnership” with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO) and “we will continue to change the culture by rooting out employees who take advantage of the public trust.”
At this point, it’s indisputable O’Neill was a victim – especially when actual corruption of similar monetary value has been covered-up by the JCPD Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) and HCPO. Ironically, it was Fulop’s longest-serving police chief, Philip Zacche, the mayor’s choice to “root out corruption,” that’s now a convicted criminal (despite being exonerated by the HCPO).
Though Fulop, Shea, and the HCPO did their best to protect him, Zacche was ultimately convicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – which is apparently the only law enforcement organization investigating corruption in Jersey City and Hudson County. Unlike the $400 off-duty conspiracy against O’Neill, which covered two 4-hour shifts, Zacche was stealing from the Jersey City Housing Authority (JCHA) for at least half a decade by not showing up to an off-duty security gig.
Adding to the irony is that, like Ospina, former FBI Director James Comey – who became a household name during the 2016 presidential election – also apologized for the leadership of Shea. Not James Shea, but Kim Shea – the former Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s field office in New Haven, CT.
According to the Associated Press, sometime in March 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed to settle a lawsuit brought forward by a Connecticut FBI agent who alleged his bosses discriminated and retaliated against him.
Specifically, FBI agent Kurt Siuzdak claimed that Kim Mertz (now Shea) and another supervisor blocked his “pursuit of several management positions and started baseless internal investigations because of his complaints.” One of those baseless investigations started by Mertz was for Siuzdak allegedly “using a bureau vehicle for personal transportation,” which sounds eerily similar to parts of the baseless report by News 12 NJ’s Walt Kane covering the JCPD Motorcycle Squad – which was part of the “ordeal” that led to O’Neill’s indictment.
Siuzdak alleged that the retaliation continued after he filed the lawsuit. Like Siuzdak, O’Neill, despite being acquitted, continues to face retaliation from the Fulop Administration in the form of not being paid his backpay and legal fees.
Furthermore, as reported by the AP, a January 2013 inspection of the New Haven office’s violent-crime task forces by FBI headquarters found that “senior management was described as leading by fear and intimidation, negatively impacting both internal personnel and the liaison relationships with the FBI’s external partners.”
Of note, details related to the settlement have not been released and DOJ officials told the AP there was no admission of wrongdoing. According to the website True Pundit, a federal judge directed the FBI and DOJ to settle the case because, according to one FBI insider, “if this gets in front of a jury and goes public, it will become a major black eye for the FBI.”
That’s ironic because The State of New Jersey vs Joseph Ascolese, Kelly Chesler, and Michael O’Neill, which was filmed from the jury box in Judge Ospina’s courtroom for the public to see, is now considered a major black eye for the HCPO (especially Peter Stoma).
Siuzdak’s lawsuit states that Comey visited the New Haven field office near the end of 2013 and apologized to employees for “the failure of the FBI’s executive management to correct the leadership failures” in Connecticut, the AP reports.
According to her LinkedIn page, Mertz left the New Haven FBI field office by September 2013 – and the FBI altogether by September 2014. It’s not clear when they started dating, but a November 2014 Jersey Journal story identifies Mertz as Shea’s fiancee.
Based on what’s been reported, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine it was love at first discussion of law enforcement leadership tactics…
Unfortunately, for some JCPD officers, the only FBI representatives paying them visits are for criminal investigations. As for the many honest and dedicated JCPD officers, I doubt they’ll be getting an apology for James Shea’s handling of the police off-duty employment program – which is a management disaster bordering on sabotage.
Is it unfair to drag Kim Shea into Jim’s mess?
Yes, it’s unfair.
Then Kim showed up to the civil trial of JCPD provisional-Deputy Chief David Goldrich vs. City of Jersey City and she quickly became relevant.
As previously reported, Jim Shea – talking so loud he could be clearly heard from the other side of U.S District Judge Susan Wigenton’s courtroom – stated that “hiring [HR Director Mark Bunbury] was scraping the bottom of the barrel” while speaking offhand with the city’s legal representation.
That wasn’t the only thing Shea said with reckless disregard while I sat in the courtroom, nor was it the first. Ironically, shortly before opening statements, Shea “whispered” to Jersey City Assistant Corporation Counsel Scott Carbone, as both looked directly at me, about the “Chiefs losing” and “the judge was against the city.”
The “Chiefs losing” is an obvious reference to the Kansas City Chiefs, of which readers of this website know I’m a diehard fan. The other was an apparent reference to Judge Ospina, who presided over the first trial emanating from the JCPD off-duty jobs program involving O’Neill, as well as Lt. Kelly Chesler and retired-Capt. Joseph Ascolese (who, like Kim Shea, attended the Goldrich trial).
Of note, Shea saying “the judge was against the city” is interesting because it’s clear the indictments against Ascolese, Chesler, and O’Neill were the result of a fake, malicious investigation conducted by the JCPD IAU (especially Lt. Robert Sjosward).
Another thing Shea said rather loudly to Carbone, on February 8, 2019, during one of the breaks in the Goldrich trial, was that “we’re not going to give them their backpay because they’re gonna use the money on lawyers to sue us.” That statement is an obvious reference to the predicament both Chesler and O’Neill find themselves in, but more so Chesler because her 2015 lawsuit against the city, which fueled the malicious IAU investigation, can now proceed following the HCPO dismissing charges against her.
All that said, the craziest thing I heard didn’t come from Shea – it was actually Carbone.
Specifically, Carbone let it be known that he didn’t need to be introduced to Kim Shea at the trial. And why is that? Because he already met her in former city attorney Megan Morey’s office.
I guess Carbone doesn’t read Real Jersey City, because I’m sure he wouldn’t have said that in my presence knowing the conspiracy I’ve alleged – that the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General (NJOAG) Official Corruption Bureau ignored criminal activity in the Fulop Administration for political reasons.
Specifically, Carbone’s new boss, Corporation Counsel Peter Baker, who is Morey’s husband, was a deputy attorney general in the NJOAG’s Official Corruption Bureau while Morey was working for the city and fundraising for Fulop.
I’ll return to how alarming Carbone’s admission was at a later time, because it deserves a separate article or two of analysis, but first I still have to finish my recap of the Goldrich Trial (which has been delayed due to other priorities and procrastination, my apologies).
Regardless, like the FBI’s New Haven field office, new leadership is needed at the top of the JCPD and HCPO. The real question now – will the U.S. Department of Justice provide the people of Jersey City the relief so desperately needed?