ORANGE, NJ — The Federal Bureau of Investigation served the city and Mayor Dwayne Warren’s administration a subpoena in April, according to Orange City Council members, bringing the total number of subpoenas to four.
FBI subpoenas were previously served on City Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017; the Orange Public Library on Thursday, July 21, 2016; and on City Hall on Friday, July 2, 2016.
An attorney from Kritchley, Kinum and DeNoia, which represents the city, attended the June 6 council meeting to update council members on the ongoing FBI investigation related to the subpoena.
“The man that people saw at the meeting was a lawyer from the law firm that the city hired with approval from the City Council to handle all legal matters related to the FBI investigation, including the subpoenas that were served on the city in 2016, 2017 and this year,” city business administrator Chris Hartwyk confirmed Friday, June 8. “The council went into executive session so that he could give them an update on the latest developments in the ongoing FBI investigation and to deal with other matters, including personnel.”
At large Councilwoman Donna K. Williams and North Ward Councilwoman Tency Eason confirmed Hartwyk’s statement Friday, June 8.
“Yes, we had executive session to discuss the FBI subpoena, a settlement in a legal matter and public safety. I have not heard of anymore subpoenas being delivered,” Williams said.
And West Ward Councilman Harold Johnson added Friday, June 8, “The lawyer from Kritchley, Kinum and DeNoia came to talk to us about an FBI subpoena that was served on the city in April that had a May 22 deadline. The FBI served it on the law firm and the law firm gave a copy of it to the city attorney, but the city attorney didn’t give a copy to the city clerk until after the May 22 deadline had passed, so nobody outside of the administration knew about it and, when we found out about it, we asked for information … that’s why the attorney from Kritchley, Kinum and DeNoia came to the June 6 meeting.”
According to Johnson, the council went into executive session on Wednesday, June 6, to discuss the new FBI subpoena, but not the three previous subpoenas served in 2016 and 2017. He said city attorney Eric Pennington had given a copy of the new subpoena to the city clerk after it was due to be complied with by city officials and their lawyers.
Orange City Clerk Joyce Lanier stated Monday, June 11, that “The city attorney has taken the legal position that he reserves the right to withhold documents related to ongoing legal matters from the Clerk’s Office, even though they are a part of the public record. According to the state of New Jersey, the municipal clerk is the official keeper of records for any municipality in the state, and that includes legal documents and correspondence. I do have a copy of the April FBI subpoena now.”
An Open Public Records Act request for the April subpoena submitted by the Record-Transcript was denied by Lanier, who stated the reason for this is that “records pertaining to an ongoing investigations are exempt from disclosure.”