A campaign mailer alleging former Brick Township councilman, and current Republican council candidate, Domenick Brando took “tens of thousands” of dollars from homeowners through his construction business and never performed the work is slander and will result in a lawsuit, the candidate told Shorebeat.
The mailer, which includes a black-and-white photo of Brando with the word “fraud” stamped over his head, references two lawsuits filed against Brando in 2006 and 2007 that claim he did not complete construction work in a timely fashion through a side business he used to run. The mailer says Brando “closed down his contracting business to avoid paying the people he cheated” and that his “victims” were never paid back.
But Brando says the mailer is a lie, and that he has already met with an attorney to file a slander and defamation of character suit against Andrea Zapcic, his Democratic opponent in this year’s township council race.
“They’ll stop at nothing to win an election,” said Brando. “To try and destroy a person that way, it’s nothing more than pure slander.”
Brando said that after suffering a career-ending injury in his full-time job as a police officer in North Jersey, he was physically unable to continue work on two jobs he had been contracted to complete. But, he says, he did not take any money to which he was not entitled and his customers were made whole, and the lawsuits settled. In one of the suits, every contractor on the job, not just Brando, had been sued, he said.
“There were a couple jobs that had to be finished up,” Brando said. “I paid it out of my own pocket. There was never a judgment, never a complaint signed. They took a little tiny story and made it look like I’m a criminal.”
Zapcic did not comment on the mailer itself but did send Shorebeat copies of the two lawsuits as well as a bankruptcy filing on behalf of Brando’s company.
In one suit, filed in Feb. 2006, the plaintiffs said Brando’s company was hired to build a bulkhead at their home in Aug. 2003. The job, the plaintiffs alleged, was supposed to take two weeks but took 11 months to complete. The second lawsuit – in which Brando was sued among other contractors – was filed in March 2007 over a project that had been undertaken in Sept. 2004. The plaintiffs, in that suit, claim that renovations on their home took too long to complete and eventually ceased.
The Aug. 2007 bankruptcy filing lists debts to both of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits as well as Robert C. Shea, the attorney for one of the plaintiffs, and Ronald Lueddeke, the attorney for the other plaintiff. At the time of the filing, the disposition of one of the suits was not yet determined so no dollar amount was listed. The total amount of debt listed in the filing was $35,688.
Brando said what spurred the mailer, which also took aim at a job he held at the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority until it was eliminated earlier this year, is the fact that polling shows Zapcic is behind as the Nov. 4 election draws closer.
“To say that I took tens of thousands of dollars is nothing more than malicious slander,” Brando said. “They’ll try anything to win.”