Home School News Brick BOE Member May Face Ethics Complaint Over Mortgage Deals

Brick BOE Member May Face Ethics Complaint Over Mortgage Deals

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Brick BOE member Michael Conti. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Brick BOE member Michael Conti. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A Brick Board of Education member says numerous mortgage deals he struck with district employees – including Interim Superintendent Dr. Richard Caldes – were “above board,” but a resident said he will file an ethics complaint in the matter.

Board member Michael Conti, who is also a Republican candidate for township council, sold at least 16 mortgages to school district employees, said resident George Scott, who confronted Conti on the matter during the public comment portion of a board meeting Thursday night. Scott said Conti should have abstained from a vote to appoint Caldes superintendent.

Conti’s employer, Assured Mortgage Bankers Corp., wrote Caldes a $529,255 mortgage on a home in Point Pleasant Borough on Feb. 20, 2015, according to records obtained from the Ocean County Clerk’s Office. In May, Conti was part of a vote to appoint Caldes as interim superintendent following the arrest of former superintendent Walter Uszenski on theft charges.

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“As a taxpayer, I am concerned because I see it as, minimally, an ethics problem,” Scott said.

“Everything I do is, in my opinion, very much above-board,” said Conti, who explained he is a salaried employee at Assured Mortgage and did not directly benefit financially from any of the mortgages he arranged for district employees. Conti also said he has abstained from certain votes involving his clients.

“In any time that I have been involved in a transaction, because sometimes we have stipend positions that come up for a vote, I have recused myself from those stipend transactions when they’ve come up for a vote,” he said.

Conti also said he was not paid commissions on any of the loans.

“My compensation is separated from the people I’m doing business with so I can try to obtain them the best mortgage rates I possibly can in the marketplace,” he said.

The explanation did not satisfy Scott, who said a board member should not be engaging in business with district employees.

“You get paid from Assured,” said Scott. “Assured makes their money by giving out mortgages. So you did gain financially. That’s how your company gets to pay you – by staying in business and doing mortgages.”

The state School Ethics Act, which governs the actions of school board members across New Jersey, states that a member of a board of education should not “act in his official capacity in any matter where he, a member of his immediate family, or a business organization in which he has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment.”

The law also states that a board member should not use his office “for the purpose of securing financial gain for himself, any member of his immediate family, or any business organization with which he is associated.”

Conti said 99 percent of his business is obtained through referrals.

Board attorney Jack Sahradnik said Thursday night was the first time he’d heard about the issue and did not have a comment.

“I would not render an opinion of an ethical nature raised by a member of the public without doing the proper research,” Sahradnik said.

Scott ended his public comment by saying he would likely file a complaint on the matter with the School Ethics Commission, which has the power to censure, suspend or remove members of school boards.

“I think I will pursue this as an ethics violation,” Scott said.


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  • Joseph Woolston Brick

    There should be a new rule added. That no school board member can run for higher office until five years AFTER their service with the school board. This would weed out the political types that use school boards as a stepping stone to higher office and attract people that are interested in one thing and one thing only. The education and well being of our kids.

    • Sal Petoia

      Joseph Woolston Brick: An excellent suggestion!

      • JJones

        Joe I agree that should be put into the rules and would keep everyone focused on the kids

    • jo jo ormaz

      “The Children- It’s for the Children” – words often spoken by Jim Gearheart 101.5FM in the mornings! while discussing politics in – “”The Great Garden State”

      • JW

        That’s what Acropolis said when he wanted to socialize hockey in this town for the Brick Hockey Club that he was president of… and for the children who mostly don’t place hockey.

  • Chief Wahoo

    16 mortgages to school members. Absolutely that’s a conflict. Actually it’s unbelievable. And a $525,000 mortgage. How much did the phoney Dr. Put down. At what interest rate ??? Has it already been dumped on taxpayers at Fannie or Freddie.

    ANARCHO-CAPITALISM

    • jo jo ormaz

      come on Chief, it’s the Mortgage world – who knows anything about loyalty when your on commission only! you have to take what you can when you can get it along with any other side deal you can make on the back end? Oh Chief, OOps! I’m sorry, thought we were talking about Politics? or the BOE or Mortgage “dirty” Business or back room deals..? Ha,Ha, funny how they all work the same. “just saying of course”
      Although, we do believe if there’s anything to be found on anything; you will not only find it, but Post it also!

  • Chief Wahoo

    While new to the mortgage banking industry, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience to guide you through the mortgage process. My personal area of expertise is helping first time homebuyers navigate their way through the home buying process.

    As a graduate of the University of Maryland, I received a Bachelors degree in History and Government and Politics. I then went on to Graduate School at the University of Maryland where I obtained a Masters in Secondary Education.

    I taught in Montgomery County, Maryland at Wheaton High School for 4 years prior to moving back to New Jersey with my lovely wife, Christine. We recently had our first child, Alexander Charles Conti. My experience teaching has made the switch to mortgage banking a smooth one.

    I look forward to helping you out with all of your mortgage needs. Stay up to date with anything mortgage related at my blog.

    • BillyBrick

      You are right on chief.

  • JJones

    Here we go trash politics in a election year…Hold on folks this issue will take away from the real issues that need to be focuses on like crime drugs and taxes..The safe quilty of life has slipped away in Brick and I don’t care how someone makes his living and its all legal and someone can save money on his expenses.. The past superindent was a greedy bastard and used his title to benefit his personal and family needs. With his salary at $170 k he’s the guilty one and should be gone…People lets not lose site of the problems in town which the serious problems in town and hope we can keep the trash talk out it lets stay on the facts than change our town back to a safe one…

  • jane

    Another distraction from the REAL issues at hand on the BOE.

    • jo jo ormaz

      We agree Jane,, let’s begin to take a look at the “other candidates” – who are not so well known or being pushed a side. I will eliminated anyone who’s related to or best friends of the top 6 names always mentioned – because they are all connected in some way.!!
      Want to go on ethics, Take a GOOD – look at who’s Good friends with who and who’s running!!!
      Looking forward to July 27 when all the names are in? how many people are running this year 13 -15 ? where did all of these people come from and why? who was the first name in and who was the last one to submit as a candidate? Chief – your good at this, can you do a little homework for all of us ! ??

      • BillyBrick

        Following your logic Mr. Conti and Mr. Pannucci would have to go on the list of friends of Brenda Calderone since they ran together and also on the list of John Barton and Joe Sangiovanni since the good mayoral candidate endorsed both Conti and Pannucci and Barton for BOE. Just looking at the facts of association like you do with your “good friends club”.Hey, maybe Mr. Pannucci will use Mr. Conti for a mortgage if he eventually owns a home in Brick someday.Forget about the Acropolis team, lets call CONTI AND PANNUCCI THE SANGIOVANNI TEAM.

    • Jane Marie

      You are absolutely correct, Jane. It sounds like the “in with Dr. U and his board pals” group are just trying to make another empty seat on the board to put more of their friends in that position.

      • Anthony

        I think Mr. Conti got caught with his hand in the school district cookie jar and the best cookie of all was richard caldes. No way is that ethical. Let’s get on the school board so I can do the best for the kids. I think not. I think he needed a new source of potential mortgage holders and he found them.

    • walter.f.campbell

      Jane,the real issue is a “power grab”for the Republicans…to be completed when the county “super”fills the B.O.E. seat….do not forget who appointed the “super”.With “Doctrine of Necessity”Hell has no fury!!!Kids and Facilities after thought!!!

      • BillyBrick

        You make a lot of sense Walter. How many of those candidates were Republicans? Don’t let Calderone fool you because she was Pannucci and Conti’s running mate that didn’t get elected. “I’m no political hack” says she.

  • KMC

    I think the County Superintendent should decide on wiping this entire board out and starting new. That’s what we need. This is getting way out of hand. I voted for Mr. Conti. I do like him. Wished he had done more than what he is doing these past two months, but he is better than some of the others we have up there.

    • BillyBrick

      Did he write your mortgage too?

  • BillyBrick

    VOTE FOR THE SANGIOVANNI TEAM OF CONTI, PANNUCCI, TOTH AND BACON. NOT.