Curley Calls for Resignations From Brookdale Board of Trustees
Freeholder director repeated call for resignations after former Brookdale Community College President Peter Burnham pleaded guilty to official misconduct charges.
Tuesday's guilty plea from former Brookdale Community College President Peter Burnham has some calling for more financial accountability from the college's board of trustees.
Burnham, 68 of Colts Neck, pleaded guilty on Tuesday before Judge Thomas F. Scully to two counts of official misconduct and one count of theft by deception. Prosecutors say Burnham used credit cards issued to him by Brookdale to purchase more than $10,000 worth of items.
According to News 12, Burnham made $216,000 in his position at Brookdale.
Freeholder Director John Curley, who became the community college's liaison in January, 2011, said he was the one to call attention to personal spending with college money from Burnham's office. Curley called for Burnham, and the Board of Trustees to resign.
"I tore through that budget and I was able to get a copy of the president's contract," Curley said. "I realized the Board of Trustees had been really lax."
Curley said he was the whistleblower, and he believes his comments and call for an investigation prompted the prosecutors to act.
Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni said, "I am not going to comment on how the case was referred to us or how it became apparent to us, but we are always listening, let's put it that way."
Curley said accountability does not stop at Burnham.
"I'm also calling again to the Board of Trustees who I feel have really shortchanged the taxpayers and the tuition payers at Brookdale," Curley said. "I am still calling for the board of trustees' resignation. Obviously except for the two new board members, who were just appointed a few months ago."
The Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees is made up of 12 board members, eight of whom are appointed by county freeholders and two by the governor's office. Currently, two trustees are up for reappointment.
Dr. Maureen Murphy, Jacob S. Elkes, Father Brian Butch, Dr. Lewis G. Anderson, Charles A. Karcher, Lora U. Campbell, David Flaherty, Tim Hart, S. Lucille Jones, Dr. Peter Kapsales, Richard M. Maser, Joan Raymond and Graduate Trustee Timothy Hart make up the current board.
Maureen Murphy was appointed in February 2012 as president of the college. David Flaherty of Howell and Charles A. Karcher of Colts Neck were appointed in May to replace board members Howard Birdsall, who stepped down in May 2011, and Simon Bosco, who resigned in November 2011. Hart is a student, appointed by his peers to serve a one-year term.
"I have no idea whether they knew what was going on, but again that goes back to the country club attitude that everyone's a friend to everyone else," Curley said. "The moral and fiduciary responsibility has been shrugged by the trustees. They should have followed Burnham's activities much closer."
Gramiccioni did not comment on Tuesday about current or future targets of state investigation. However, he said Burnham is continuing to cooperate with the Prosecutor's Office.
"Hopefully with a new Board of Trustees there will be a far greater accountability for the moral and fiduciary responsibility," Curley said.