Panel to probe complaint against lawmaker

Posted: September 19, 2013

TRENTON - The state committee that reviews ethics accusations against lawmakers will investigate a complaint against Assemblyman Nelson T. Albano (D., Cumberland), who claimed he was mistreated by police when ticketed for speeding last year.

The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards voted, 8-0, Tuesday to authorize its attorneys to investigate the complaint, filed by a South Dennis, Cape May County, resident. It accuses Albano of trying to use his political influence for personal gain.

According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Albano was pulled over on Feb. 21, 2012, by a state trooper in Mercer County and ticketed for driving 71 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone.

Albano complained to the state police that he was targeted because he had supported pension reform, according to an April story in the Star-Ledger, which obtained copies of his complaint. Months later, the paper obtained footage from a camera inside the trooper's car that seemed to cast doubt on Albano's version.

Albano's accusation spurred an internal state police investigation, which determined that it was unfounded.

Albano withdrew his complaint against the trooper and paid the speeding fine, according to the Star-Ledger.

In his complaint to the ethics committee, Edward Beck of South Dennis referred to the Star-Ledger reports and alleged that Albano, a member of the Law and Public Safety Committee, "sought a way to have his ticket erased . . . by exerting the political influence he had over the state police."

The complaint is dated March 18, but a lawyer for the ethics committee said state law barred the committee from taking up the complaint then because it was submitted within 90 days of the legislative primary election. Albano, who has served in the Assembly since 2006, is seeking reelection in November.

Albano's chief of staff, Allison Murphy, said the committee's decision to investigate was "procedural" and did not mean it had merit.

"I fully expect this politically motivated claim to be dismissed," Murphy said in a statement. "We go through this process almost every campaign season [and] it's getting old."

Beck - a former police officer, according to his complaint - did not return a phone call Tuesday.

In May, a Gloucester County grand jury indicted a Washington Township police officer on charges of tampering with records, falsifying records, and official misconduct stemming from a traffic stop and arrest of another South Jersey lawmaker.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D., Gloucester) accused Joseph DiBuonaventura of misconduct after the officer pulled Moriarty over on the Black Horse Pike in Turnersville and charged him with drunken driving last year.


Contact Maddie Hanna at 609-989-8990 or mhanna@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @maddiehanna

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