Home School News ‘Disappointed and Disrespected:’ Brick BOE Member in Legal Bill Fight

‘Disappointed and Disrespected:’ Brick BOE Member in Legal Bill Fight

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Brick Board of Education President John Lamela (left) and board attorney Nicholas Montenegro. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Brick Board of Education President John Lamela (left) and board attorney Nicholas Montenegro. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A legal loophole could force a Brick school board member, as well as previous members who are no longer serving, to incur thousands of dollars in legal fees after being called as a witness as part of the latest round of investigations into suspended Superintendent Walter Uszenski.

Sharon Cantillo, the former board president, has been issued a subpoena along with other former board members, to testify in the prosecutor’s office’s latest investigation of Uszenski after a judge dismissed charges against him earlier this year and admonished the prosecution for the way it presented a previous case to a grand jury. Cantillo said she was advised by the prosecutor’s office to have an attorney present, especially because she is suffering from a condition that causes profound hearing loss and could possibly misunderstand a question.

Because Cantillo was not named in any legal action and has not been named the target of an investigation, the school district’s legal insurance policy does not cover her legal fees even though all of her testimony would be related to her service as a board member. The board could have voted to reimburse her legal fees anyway, but they apparently refused to do so when the subject was brought up during a closed session meeting before Thursday night’s regular board meeting.

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Cantillo, who has served the district for more than a decade as a board member, is the last remaining board member still serving from when Uszenski was hired. Five of the seven board members were elected as the “Clean Slate” team and opposed Cantillo’s board allies in recent elections.

Cantillo, who has frequently said she is left in the dark on school issues and not sent committee meeting minutes and other materials, was visibly shaken from the denial and left the board meeting early. She is scheduled to undergo surgery Friday morning.

“I feel extremely disappointed and disrespected at the outcome of the discussion tonight.” Cantillo said.”There is an old fashioned saying that goes, ‘today me, tomorrow you.'”

“I do not feel that this is a team, and I hope one day that you don’t find yourself in the position that I’m in,” she continued.

“I have had to hire my own private counsel in order to protect myself and to protect the school board. That charge is a hardship, and I don’t think any one of my fellow board would want to be tesifying or go before any legal body without the benefit and comfort of an attorney at their side,” she said.

“She’s not a target in a criminal investigation, she’s a witness,” said board attorney Nicholas Montenegro, explaining why her legal counsel would not be covered by the district’s insurance policy.

Montenegro did acknowledge, however, that her testimony would be “based on knowledge she had as a school board member,” and later said that the decision not to reimburse her legal fees has “not been finalized.”

Sources have said all of the former board members who served while Uszenski was superintendent have been called to testify in front of a new investigative committee. Earlier this year, charges alleging Uszenski provided educational services to his grandson to which he was not entitled, were dismissed by Superior Court Judge Patricia Roe. In her decision, Roe found that prosecutors did not include potential exculpatory evidence – namely, that Uszenski’s grandson had already attended an alternative school and was approved to attend by the state before his grandfather was ever hired in Brick – and dismissed the charges.

The prosecutor’s office has told Uszenski’s attorney, Joseph Benediçt, that they will seek a new indictment despite the ruling.


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  • Mac

    If Ocean County had a county prosecutor that was competent instead of just a political kneepad chasing ghosts through underground tunnels in full-feathered head-dressing, none of this witch-hunt activity or the foreseeable expenses associated with this witch-hunt activity would be necessary in the first place.

  • Surfrider

    Yes, I agree. What a waste, we got the booby prize with this clown. BUT….there are may serious questions and answers to be found out in all this crap. There was definitely wrong doing, and these people are responsible for hiring a crook and druggie………

    • Hbadger

      I know you believe in Star Wars and everything can be healed with yoga but thanks for making me laugh from your ignorance. If you are from your associated group, please stop supporting the government as if they are your unicorn

      • Surfrider

        I am a Marine Corps Vet who believes in this country…you make me laugh as a person who talks in riddles, and what have you accomplished in your life?

      • Hbadger

        I am not as decorated as you and appreciate your service. I do sleep well at night knowing what I do To help make right in this world. Ocean is probably the second most corrupt place in the US, and sad as I see the youth suffer because of it. Hopefully you are on the right side.

      • Surfrider

        Fair enough, i am not decorated, just a person who did my time honorably, I agree with you, who do you have worst then Ocean, I probably agree with ya pardner!

      • Late Night Comedian

        Hudson county and Camden, Essex, Atlantic, Mercer, and Bergen counties all more corrupt than Ocean.

      • Surfrider

        WOW ! Yeah, i guess they are just rookies down here as far as being corrupt, although there is way too much!

      • Late Night Comedian

        I agree with that. Term limits would solve many problems with corruption.

      • Surfrider

        Boy, for sure!

      • Mac

        I disagree. Term limits change names, not political party bosses. Regardless of the name on the panel in the voting booth, the party boss stays the same, and each and every elected position under his/her control is accountable only to the party boss. You either bring home the bacon or you’re replaced.

      • Mac

        While not the sharpest crayons in the box, they aren’t rookies. Frankly, there’s just not that much of value in Ocean County for two political parties to fight over. There’s basically nothing more here than a Fourth of July to Labor Day part-time seasonal sandpit of bedroom communities.

      • Hbadger

        Haha, I heard Baton Rouge was bad. It’s too cozy and what we need is spending cuts but they can’t get re-elected if they do the smart thing. Hopefully tech will rid of us of too many overpaid idiots

      • Surfrider

        I was an IT guy as a career, you are right on the mark on that one, that is one of the reasons governments local, county, state,fed, all lag behind in catching up to date. They know there will be a record……..

    • walter.f.campbell

      This “Witch-Hunt” was started by certain “Pubs”…but backfired on them with the “Dems”capitalizing on it! “Dems” slimed board members,and candidates with large sums of money($22-25000)…..thus arose pay to play …..No-Bid contracts to their Big-Donors mainly from north nj.! current board marches in step to “nick” and “mitch” very sad!!!