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Undisclosed Federal Charges Frustrate Springfield Voters

By on Feb 11 2013.
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A Google search for “David Barnett SEC” reveals four pages worth of similar content detailing charges filed by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission against a financial media company and several executives involved in accounting fraud.  One of those executives is Springfield Township Committeeman David Barnett.  Barnett also serves as the Chairman of the Springfield Democratic Municipal Committee.  The complaints by the SEC paint a vivid description of fraud dating from 2008 to 2010.  In the 17-page complaint against Barnett, he is charged with “aiding and abetting an accounting fraud” and further charges that he “altered documents, back-dated at least one contract, and obtained a false audit confirmation”.  The complaints were filed in federal court in Manhattan and on December 21, 2012, the District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a final judgment as to Barnett. Barnett agreed to pay a $130,000 penalty and to be barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for 10 years.

United States Securities and Exchange Commission Charges Against Barnett

United States Securities and Exchange Commission Charges Against Barnett

Most of the links that appear in the search results are dated December 18, 2012, the same day the SEC charged Barnett.  However, the news did not reach most Springfield residents until  The Star-Ledger and NJ.com published an article on Sunday, December 30, 2012 with the headline “Newly elected Springfield committeeman agrees to fine after SEC files fraud charges“.  Two days later, on Tuesday, January 1, 2013, Barnett was sworn-in by Democrat Union County Clerk and former Springfield Mayor Joanne Rajoppi.  Despite public outcry and calls for his resignation, not only did Barnett take office as the newest member of the Township Committee but he also accepted an appointment by Democrat Mayor David Amlen to be the the Chairman overseeing the Township Department of Revenue and Finance.  A source indicates that at a Democrat meeting before the charges were common knowledge, party leaders discussed who would be the Mayor and Deputy Mayor but a faction preferred Barnett over Huber to be the Deputy Mayor.  Even though members of the Democrat party are also upset with Barnett over this scandal, all four Democrat members of the Township Committee supported Barnett at the annual organization meeting.

In 2009, Barnett received 2,149 votes.  He trailed former Deputy Mayor Jerry Fernandez who received 2,766 votes and former Committeeman Marc Krauss who received 2,590 votes.  This past November, Barnett enjoyed the advantage of being in the same column as President Barack Obama and as a result, he narrowly defeated Fernandez and Krauss.  The news of the federal charges against Barnett came more than a month after the 2012 election and more than two years after Barnett’s first attempt to run for Township Committee.  This has upset many residents who feel the charges were closely guarded and that information was withheld from voters because it would have jeopardized Barnett’s chances of winning the election.  Since the charges became public, residents questioned Barnett at the Township organization meeting and many have expressed concern about his ability to hold a position of trust that requires the confidence of the public and municipal employees. In an interview with The Star-Ledger, Barnett said he thinks the issue is irrelevant.  Residents disagree and contend that based on the details in the complaint, his judgment is questionable and Barnett can’t be trusted with finances or public coffers.  One resident has pointed out the irony in the agreement that prohibits Barnett from serving as an officer or director of a public company for 10 years but does not prohibit him from serving as an elected official.  A petition calling for Barnett to resign circulated on change.org and quickly amassed more than a dozen signatures before being inexplicably closed.  Barnett has insisted he will not resign and intends to serve the full length of his three year term.



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