MORRIS COUNTY — On August 18, 2021, the Mayor of Parsippany-Troy Hills Township, Michael A. Soriano, became aware of a thirty-second video clip in which a white man used a racial epithet against the person holding the camera. The white man in the video was assumed, based on context clues given in the Instagram post publicizing the clip, to be acting as an employee of AJACO Towing Inc., a company contracted by the township to provide professional towing and other emergency-related services for the Parsippany Police Department and other municipal operations.
MAYORS VERDICT WITHOUT ANY INVESTIGATION
However, instead of allowing the police department to complete an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, Mayor Soriano accepted the clip at face value and, without seeking approval from the town council or the township’s attorney or obtaining a single fact from the parties involved in the incident, made the decision to direct the acting police chief to terminate the townships nine-year-long contract with the 27-year-old company, AJACO towing Inc. without any investigation. Video footage uncovered and now reviewed for the first time by Detectives from Parsippany Police Department on August 27, 2021, reveal that AJACO Towing is a Victim of Crimes that include terroristic threats. Unlike the Mayor’s Actions in this matter, a complete investigation has begun.
THE ALLEGED CRIME
Mayor Soriano also instructed the township’s public information officer to issue a press release that branded AJACO Towing and everyone associated with it as racist, or, at the very least, as a business employing individuals who condone racist behavior. As a result, employees and even family members have endured harassment and even death threats on a near-constant basis since the press release was published and major media outlets began reporting about it.
The facts of the situation were never examined by Mayor Soriano, who acted wholly outside of his authority as township mayor by making an “executive” decision without giving a highly regarded company with nearly thirty years in business the rights afforded to that company by virtue of its contract with the township. He instructed the public information officer to issue a press release that can best be described as libel, which is defined by Cornell Law School as “a method of defamation expressed by print, writing, pictures, signs, effigies, or any communication embodied in physical form that is injurious to a person’s reputation, exposes a person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or injures a person in his/her business or profession.”
The release of this false statement to the public and the media has resulted in immediate negative consequences to AJACO Towing including financial damage related to the loss of its contract with the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, as well as immeasurable damage to its reputation, not only within the local community but across the country.
New Jersey Revised Statute Section 2C:27-12 describes the crime of corruption of public resources, which reads: “1. a. A person commits the crime of corruption of public resources if, with respect to a public resource which is subject to an obligation to be used for a specified purpose or purposes, the person knowingly uses or makes disposition of that public resource or any portion thereof for any unauthorized purpose.”
CORRUPTION OF PUBLIC RESOURCES
The township’s public information officer is indisputably a public resource. Instructing the public information officer to issue a libelous press release to the public and the media is almost certainly a misuse of that public resource. AJACO alleges that by using the public information officer to release a libelous public statement, Mayor Michael A. Soriano committed a crime against AJACO Towing, the municipality to which he was elected, and the PEOPLE for which he has taken an oath.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM VICTIM AJACO TOWING, INC.
“AJACO TOWING, INC. does not condone racism and never has. The Parsippany Public Information Office should not be used for one’s individual political gain nor should any government office be used to incite racism in our Parsippany Community. AJACO demands that the Mayor’s Press Release is rescinded without delay”
In fact, the public is welcome to visit with this author at AJACO Towing to review the actual facts of what happened that day on August 16, 2021.
This press release was submitted by Paul G. Argen, Investigative Reporter & Fraud Examiner
FULL DISCLOSURE: PAUL G. ARGEN is a Public Advocate and also employed as Chief Compliance Officer for AJACO Towing, Inc