JACKSON, NJ – Nevermind Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina appears to be the target of an FBI investigation based out of the Red Bank FBI field office. Let’s put aside the fact that Reina, according to some elected Freeholders is educationally unqualified for his six-figure job as the head of the Ocean County Bridge Department. Let’s forget also that Reina, according to several county officials never attended the required training mandated by the state of New Jersey to hold his job.
We can look into five separate workplace harassment lawsuits and grievances filed by those Reina has fired in his duties as Mayor of Jackson Township and with his job at the Ocean County Bridge Department as evidence that it would be horribly irresponsible for the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders to re-hire Reina once his existing appointment expires in February.
Reina has jumped from job appointment to job appointment facilitated by his connections as the mayor of Jackson. First, Governor Chris Christie hired Reina to the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security for his loyal political support to help elect and re-elect the former Governor. Reina, a staunch ally of Christie had a falling out after he was ordered to stop taking his mayoral salary by the Governor.
Reina was then given a job at the Ocean County bridge department, facilitated by former Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore and Ocean County Freeholder James Lacey. Now, Lacey and Gilmore are out of the political picture and it is up to the new power base in Ocean County, Chairman Frank Holman, and the five-member board to determine whether or not to continue employing Reina, who in return gives a lot of people in Ocean County politics a lot of money each year.
Two former Jackson Township employees are suing Reina for workplace harassment and wrongful termination. Three employees that once worked for Reina at the county are also suing Reina for workplace harassment. All of those cases are pending and have stalled due to the COVID-19 crisis. The FBI has questioned at least 3 individuals in Reina’s circle over the past three months that we have been able to confirm. Questioning has revolved around Reina’s involvement and influence during the township’s many planning and zoning board hearings and with Reina’s relationships with local developers, both good and bad. Is Reina giving politically connected developers an easy route to approval while meddling negatively against applications from developer Reina is at odds with? It’s unsure, but several lawsuits in Jackson suggest that could be the case which could hinder Jackson’s home rule with local development and in some cases, could indeed be a crime worth investigating by the FBI.
Reina is also the center of a federal Department of Justice civil rights lawsuit headed by Republican-leaning Attorney William Barr. With a Biden-Harris administration coming in with direct influence by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy who is also at odds with Reina’s handling of local land use cases things could get worse for Reina and Jackson Township. Reina is also under investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Civil Rights.
Knowing Reina poses a risk of future harassment suits against the county could expand future suits to include the county Freeholders and Business Administrator Carl Block. All of them are aware of Reina’s workplace accusations and lawsuits. Reina’s negligent actions have already cost taxpayers millions of dollars at the county level and in Jackson through lawsuits filed by former employees. While the county and township insurance policies will cover those damages.
If the Freeholders rehire Reina to his sometimes-show six-figure job at the county, future lawsuits could extend to the freeholders and to the administrator, one high-level official within the county feared.
Reina collects full health benefits from the residents of Jackson. He opted not to take county benefits because the cost of health benefits is cheaper in Jackson. He is only one of two part time employees township wide to receive full medical benefits.
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