TOMS RIVER, NJ – It’s the end of the road for longtime George Gilmore associate Carl Block at the Ocean County Administration Building this week. Earlier, Block, the Ocean County Business Administrator, was notified by Ocean County Commissioner Virginia Haines that he would not be rehired when his appointment with the county expires in June of 2022.
Block is the latest victim in the long-running political feud that has divided the Ocean County Republican organization between forces aligned with Chairman Frank Holman and those still allegiant to former GOP Chairman George Gilmore.
Block, according to several people within the administration building who wished to remain anonymous out of fear for their job, was taking the news hard. Now, many who were seen as friends to the former chairman are scrambling for their jobs as they could be the next victim of the Haines-Holman chopping block.
Haines will replace Block with current Assistant Business Administrator Michael J. Fiure. Fiure has served as assistant administrator since 2015 but has worked for the county since 2013. Fiure and Haines have a long history together, serving on the township council of then Dover Township. It was Fiure and Haines who propelled Carmine Inteso into the Dover Township mayor’s seat in 2002 in a 3-2 vote. Inteso later fled the country and was arrested by the FBI.
Fiure, a former assistant prosecutor in Somerset County, ran for office with Virginia Haines in 2002 when she was just 55-years-old and he was 30.
Inteso later fled the U.S. to work as a contractor in Afghanistan, but in 2012, he was arrested by FBI agents after returning from an overseas flight at Kennedy International Airport. He later pleaded guilty to tax evasion later that year for his role in the Ritacco crime scandal at the Toms River Regional School Board.
It was later learned that Inteso was receiving illegal payments from between 2006 and 2008 disgraced insurance broker Francis X. Gartland in the amount of $291,000 and never reported that income on his personal taxes.
In 2007, Fiure announced he would not run for re-election as a Toms River Township Councilman after he was served with a four-count complaint by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics the year prior.
David E. Johnson of the state Office of Attorney Ethics said Fiure’s charges equaled “gross neglect of a client’s case”.
According to the disciplinary board’s decision, Fiure “Failed to take any action on a bankruptcy matter, or return the client’s telephone calls, despite having received a fee. Respondent’s conduct violated RPC 1.1(a); RPC 1.3; and RPC 1.4(b). In another matter, respondent failed to set forth, in writing, the rate or basis of his fee, a violation of RPC 1.5(b). Thereafter, the respondent’s inaction caused delays in the case, a violation of RPC 1.3. Finally, respondent failed to cooperate with ethics authorities in both matters, a violation of RPC 8.1(b).”
Fiure is now listed as “retired” with the New Jersey Bar Association.
Carl Block refused to comment on his termination.
In the top spot to replace Fiure is New Jersey State Trooper Tristan Collins, who formed a close relationship with Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy during Superstorm Sandy’s recovery efforts. Mastronardy is running to replace Holman as chairman of the Ocean County GOP.
Mastronardy has been at odds with Block over officer salaries and his desire to build a new $100 million administration building for the Sheriff’s Department, according to county executives.
Mastronardy refused to comment on Block’s termination.
Freeholder Joe Vicari also refused to comment on Block’s termination citing an employment matter.
Haines has at least a 3-2 vote if she wants to terminate the administrator’s employment in June. Meaning Haines, Bobbi Jo Crea, and Gary Quinn would vote yes, and Vicari and Freeholder Jack Kelly could possibly vote no. Vicari would no