Home Government New Brick Housing Authority Boss Draws Praise, Despite Past Controversy

New Brick Housing Authority Boss Draws Praise, Despite Past Controversy

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Alesia Watson (right), executive director of the Housing Authority of the Township of Brick.
Alesia R. Watson (right), executive director of the Housing Authority of the Township of Brick.

The new executive director of the Brick Township Housing Authority is heralded by officials as a caring advocate for residents who goes above and beyond the call of duty, though nine years ago she had to step down from a similar position in Atlantic City after a newspaper revealed criminal convictions in her past.

Nearly a decade after the Atlantic City position fell through, Alesia R. Watson, who was appointed in November by the seven-member Board of Commissioners for the housing authority, admits she made mistakes in her younger years and is committed to the authority’s residents.

The authority’s board, which operates apartment buildings for low-income and disabled residents in a complex off Chambers Bridge Road, appointed Watson as its executive director in November through a shared services agreement with the Ocean City Housing Authority, for which Watson also serves as executive director.

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Under the contract with the Ocean City authority, a copy of which was obtained by Shorebeat through an Open Public Records Act request, Brick Township’s authority pays a flat fee of $50,000 per year for the services of an executive director to work alternating three and two day weeks. An hourly rate of $76.10 is paid by Brick for hours exceeding those in the agreement when they are required.

The contract was approved by the state Department of Community Affairs on Oct. 30, 2014, according to additional documentation obtained by Shorebeat. Watson is not considered a direct employee of the Brick authority even though she serves as its executive director, the contract states.

Since starting in Brick, Watson has drawn praise from residents and has gone “above and beyond,” said Kim V. Terebush, chairwoman of the Board of Commissioners.

“There were times when she was there many more hours and days than even requested because there were situations that needed to be addressed,” Terebush said.

Likewise, Ed Kiesche, the board’s vice chairman, praised Watson’s work ethic.

“From what I’ve seen, being with her at the meetings, she’s doing a great job and the tenants love her,” Kiesche said. “She’s very personable.”

Watson, however, was the subject of a front-page story in the Press of Atlantic City in 2006 that ultimately led to her resignation as executive director of the Atlantic City Housing Authority. Then known as Alesia Humphrey, the article referenced criminal convictions dating back to 1992 for theft and credit card fraud. The criminal convictions have been re-verified by Shorebeat.

Her legal troubles date back to an arrest in 1992, when she was charged with two counts of credit card theft, three counts of unlawful use, and theft by deception, according to the original Press of Atlantic City report. She was indicted by a Somerset County grand jury on two counts of credit card theft and theft by deception and ultimately pleaded guilty to a single count of theft by deception for which she received a sentence of probation. She was charged again with forgery, theft by deception and credit card theft in 1994, then again in 2000 with credit card theft, fraudulent use of credit cards and forgery.

All of the charges culminated in plea deals; Watson served a total of 31 days in jail and served probation. Her legal troubles ended in 2003, with a probation violation, for which she was sentenced to 131 days in jail, but given credit for time served, according to The Press’s report at the time.

Watson does not shy away or deny her past. Instead, she told Shorebeat this week that she’s committed to having positively changed her ways in order to help those less fortunate.

“I made some mistakes in my life, and I’ve cleaned myself up and turned myself around,” Watson said. “I went back to college and turned everything around. You learn from your mistakes, and you change and move on.”

Terebush said there were “ample background questions” asked before Watson was appointed.

“There was nothing that was brought to our attention as an authority,” she said.

Indeed, none of the offenses for which Watson was convicted preclude her from serving as executive director of a housing authority.

That was confirmed by Terry Brady, the housing authority’s attorney, according to Terebush, who said she consulted with the board attorney after rumors of the criminal convictions began to make their way around town.

Watson hails from an Atlantic County family known for holding considerable political clout in New Jersey. She is the daughter of Lena and Bernard Fulton; Lena Fulton’s company, Atlantic Associates Insurance, has covered numerous governmental entities, and Bernard Fulton was a political luminary in Atlantic City, helping to elect the city’s first black mayor after moving there in 1969.

Watson holds an undergraduate degree from Sojourner-Douglass College and an MBA from American Intercontinental University. She was appointed executive director of the Ocean City Housing Authority in August 2013.

Financial Realities

Brick’s housing authority has long had a full-time executive director in charge, and the idea of the authority sharing an executive director with another agency has raised some concerns in the community. For many years, Dennis Salerno, a Republican appointee, served in the role, until stepping down in 2012. Former Brick councilman Anthony Matthews, also a Republican, was in a leadership position in the authority, apparently until recently, when he was let go.

Matthews has not filed any litigation against the authority over his departure, but said he had the necessary certifications to step into the executive director role on a permanent basis. That was disputed by Kiesche, who said Matthews lacked the certifications required under the law.

“He just didn’t have those certificates,” Kiesche said, otherwise complimenting the job Matthews did at the authority.

Since Salerno’s departure, the leadership of the authority as a whole has been in flux.

The board received “quite a number of resumes” when they posted advertisements for the position earlier this year, Terebush said. A personnel committee then poured over resumes before a few final applicants were interviewed by the board as a whole, she said.

Before hiring Watson, the board attempted to hire Victor Cirilo, a Democratic city councilman in West Orange, for the job. Like Watson, Cirilo already serves as executive director of another authority – in his case, the Passaic Housing Authority. Cirilo was never formally appointed since the Passaic board would not approve the shared services agreement, Terebush said.

Watson was the next candidate selected and has been serving in the role ever since.

With housing authorities receiving less money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development due to sequestration in Washington, many are beginning to team up and share executive directors, Terebush said.

“This is now common practice with small housing authorities. It’s a cost savings factor” said Watson. “When you have small housing authorities, EDs can do it with technology.”

Though the agreement calls for alternating two and three day weeks at both the Brick and Ocean City authorities, Watson said need dictates her schedule more than any other factor.

“If I need to be there three days a week or four, I’m going to be there,” she said. “I’m making sure I’m visible.”

Watson said since coming to Brick, she has focused on starting programs to help residents become more self-sufficient where they can. She has also started Bible studies in community rooms, and worked with local churches to make Communion available to residents.

“The goal is to create a good quality of life for our seniors,” Watson said.

Additionally, Watson is currently in the process of helping to secure a $283,000 safety and security grant for the facility.

“Things like this, where she is really experienced in knowing how to move an authority and a complex forward, are certainly worth talking about,” Terebush said.


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  • Chief Wahoo

    Unbelievable. The PUBLIC takers have no shame.

  • #@#.com

    Let’s import some more crooked democrat machine members from Trenton, Camden, Newark and Jersey City, to bring Brick Township all the way down into the sewer of corruption and mismanagement.
    It is time to declare the Democrat and Republican parties of this country as criminal enterprises and demand their prosecution under the federal RICO act.

  • Sam

    Clearly a smear campaign by a disgruntled employee (political ?)

    • #@#.com

      What’s the smear? The truth is not a smear. The democrats dragged Sangiovanni through the mud because he filed for legal bankruptcy, but they praise this admitted fraudster. Her legal troubles date back to an arrest in 1992, when she was charged with two counts of credit card theft, three counts of unlawful use, and theft by deception, according to the original Press of Atlantic City report. She was indicted by a Somerset County grand jury on two counts of credit card theft and theft by deception and ultimately pleaded guilty to a single count of theft by deception for which she received a sentence of probation. She was charged again with forgery, theft by deception and credit card theft in 1994, then again in 2000 with credit card theft, fraudulent use of credit cards and forgery.

      All of the charges culminated in plea deals; Watson served a total of 31 days in jail and served probation. Her legal troubles ended in 2003, with a probation violation, for which she was sentenced to 131 days in jail, but given credit for time served, according to The Press’s report at the time.

  • #@#.com

    If they are only going to hire members of the corrupt democrat party of New Jersey, at least hire democrats from Brick Township or surrounding towns in Ocean County.
    Ducey and the Dems want taxpayers to shop locally, but then the democrats don’t hire locally.
    Democrat and Republican clubs care only about their members and money and power. Taxpayers are just pawns to them in their game of chess against each other.

  • Frank Rizzo

    Purely a black eye for the Ducey administration. I find it hard to believe that there is no one else to hire and place in a position of trust such as this one given her past criminal record of theft and fraud.

  • #@#.com

    Watson hails from an Atlantic County family known for holding considerable political clout in New Jersey. She is the daughter of Lena and Bernard Fulton; Lena Fulton’s company, Atlantic Associates Insurance, has covered numerous governmental entities, and Bernard Fulton was a political luminary in Atlantic City, helping to elect the city’s first black mayor after moving there in 1969

  • vin smith

    Mayor Ducey or the Council have nothing to do with the Housing Authority. The hiring and firing are done by the commissioners. They’re the problem. The chairwoman does not live in Brick as required in the bylaws.

    • #@#.com

      Ducey and the council pick the commissioners, who pick the employees. Actually, all the mayors, council, commissioners, and any elected officials or appointed committee, or authority members are selected at the Democrat and Republican club meetings. That’s how it works. Ask Lacey and Acropolis.
      Do you think this woman would have been hired if she was a republican? Come on.Wake up.

  • Chief Wahoo

    Careful getting rid of this fraudster….
    LANTIC CITY – A woman who resigned as the Atlantic City Housing Authority’s executive director in July 2006 weeks after The Press of Atlantic City reported her petty-theft convictions has notified several public agencies that she may sue them for employee discrimination and seek $3 million.

    Alesia R. Humphrey notified both Atlantic City’s Housing Authority and its municipal government along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development field office in Newark. She singled out Diane Johnson, HUD’s state director, as well as city Housing Authority Commissioners Mark Hamilton, Joel Clark and Shontai Nicholson.

    A tort-claim notice is not a lawsuit. Instead, it reserves a person’s right to sue a public agency in New Jersey. …

    • #@#.com

      Nice work Wahoo.

  • Chief Wahoo

    Humphrey is the daughter of politically connected city insurance broker Lena Fulton. Fulton said earlier this year that she did not exert her influence to get Humphrey the job. Instead, she said, she encouraged her daughter against taking the top position.” (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)

    Read more at Today’s news from PoliticsNJ.com | New Jersey News, Politics, Opinion, and Analysis
    Follow us: @politickernj on Twitter | PolitickerNJ on Facebook

  • Emma

    Her family is connected politically, so she gets plea deals and
    probation. Three different arrests for theft in 11 years should have
    some real consequences. She says she made *mistakes*, as if her actions
    were out of her control. Pure BS. I think Brick should have searched a
    little longer for an honest candidate for the job, considering their
    choice of a known criminal. If I was a tenant at the housing authority
    in Brick, or had any other contact with this woman, I would keep a close
    eye on my credit cards.

  • Frank Rizzo

    Hey Shore Beat…..Find out who the commissioners are and what party appointed them. These may be Democrat appointees or holdovers from the Greek Raiding Party of years past.

    • #@#.com

      Newbies and leftovers.

      Board of Commissioners

      Chair, Kim Terebush

      Vice-Chair, Edward Kiesche

      Resident Commissioner, James Conroy

      Commissioner, John Catalano

      Commissioner, Stephen S. Scaturro

      Commissioner, Stanley Schick

      Commissioner, Richard Dyer

  • Warren Massey

    Ms. Watson should not be used as a pawn in what is obviously a political war between the Democrats and Republicans , which is curious at best .. Politics have no place in providing safe and clean housing for those in need .. Ms Watson has changed her life to the extent that she should be considered a role model for those whose lives may have taken a wrong turn early in life .. She is a servant of God , she is dedicated to providing the residents of public housing all that is within her power, to live a quality life .. Any housing authority would be very fortunate to have this lady at the helm , her dedication and commitment cannot not be questioned no matter how hard one tries to tear her down for past mistakes. ..Those who have seen fit to jump on board , in the criticisms against her , without knowing her as I do , will one day soon , see a need to apologize for this unnecessary character assassination, that is politically motivated . Casting the first stone , when none of us are without sin , is wrong and must not stand .. I urge Ms. Watson to stand strong against those who would tear her down , they did the same thing to Jesus .

    • Chief Wahoo

      I don’t recall Jesus using a Visa or American Express. I do recall he flipped the moneychangers table.
      Get lost with this crap you just posted. The taxpayers have a right to demand their money isn’t given to a convicted fraudster. If she has become a servant of God, I applaud her, just stay away from public money and volunteer to help others. That’s what Jesus would do.

      ANARCHO-CAPITALISM

      • Warren Massey

        How can anyone reading these comments , see your comments as credible when you hide behind a fake name .. BTW , they didn’t have American Express or Visa in the time of Jesus as far as I know .. You sound like a angry man , maybe you should direct some of that anger at the real villains , the politicians who have chosen to make her a pawn in their game of dirty politics .. She has paid her dues and no matter what you say ” angry man or woman ” she is the best thing to happen to any housing authority .. Now identify yourself ?

  • Frank Rizzo

    I cannot wait for Obama to collapse the government and we then can start over in separate and smaller countries.

  • Stephen Brill

    I wonder who had the position before her on the Housing Authority and why that person or persons left?

  • Goodgrief

    Why would Brick ignore the criminal history?

  • CKentwood

    Where were the reporters and the articles when the last two UNQUALIFIED Executive Directors were at the Housing Authority? Salerno and Matthews couldn’t hold a candle to the knowledge and compassion that Mrs. Watson brings to the table. Maybe the reporter should of interviewed the staff or the residents before grasping at straws and old news to please a disgruntle employee who was let go because he was useless. Every single person has skeletons in their closet including you Chief Wahoo. Seriously lets move on and let the woman do her job cleaning up crap of the last two political appointees who felt it was a entitlement to be the Executive Director even though they didn’t know crap about housing.

    • Concerned Brick Citizen

      Sounds like the reporter actually interviewed the lady. And I don’t think it is old news as she was hired in our town. He also interviewed some of the commissioners so sounds like he covered all the bases. What employee would talk to the press? My assumption is you work there or know her personally. Maybe I am wrong but I thought the article did a good job of giving her a platform to explain herself, which given her history does seem necessary. No one said people dont have skeletons but if you want a public job expect you dirty laundry to be aired. I myself am a public employee and understand that I am held to a higher standard than others. I accepted that when I chose my profession.

    • Actually, Mr. Kentwood, I did do an article on Mr. Matthews being appointed to his position – see http://patch.com/new-jersey/brick/matthews-lands-job-at-housing-authority . When Mr. Salerno was appointed, I did not cover Brick, so I would have had no reason to do a story on the topic.