Holmdel officials suspend human resources director for second time

Denise Callery, who is Holmdel’s human resources director, has been suspended without pay for five days following the Township Committee’s decision to reprimand her for an isolated act of nepotism.

Township Administrator Donna Vieiro and Callery were previously suspended with pay on May 6 when municipal officials hired attorney Sean Kean to investigate an allegation involving the two women.

The allegation was that Callery had interviewed a relative for a position in Holmdel and that Vieiro was aware of Callery’s participation in the interview process.

Callery’s suspension was lifted after committee members voted unanimously on June 11 to rescind her suspension and allow her to resume work the next day.

On June 25, Township Attorney Michael Collins said a personnel matter was discussed in executive (closed) session before that evening’s Township Committee meeting. He said the findings of an extended investigation conducted by Kean resulted in Callery’s second  suspension.

The public portion of the committee meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., began at 8:15 p.m., following the closed session.

“There was no waiver of the notices (provided to employees) … the committee cannot discuss anything in public,” Collins said, addressing a large gathering of residents. “On the table is a resolution disciplining the human resources director … it provides a penalty of suspension without pay.”

On a roll call vote to suspend Callery for five days without pay, effective immediately, Mayor Eric Hinds abstained, Deputy Mayor Michael Nikolis voted “no” and committeemen Tom Critelli, Rocco Pascucci and Greg Buontempo voted “yes.” The motion passed, 3-1, with one abstention.

Kean previously said the “whistleblower” who filed the initial nepotism complaint against Vieiro and Callery was Jeanette Larrison, Holmdel’s former chief financial officer who resigned in April.

Kean said he interviewed Larrison, Hinds, Nikolis, Pascucci, Critelli and Buontempo.

Committee members previously voted 3-2 not to rescind Vieiro’s suspension after Kean reported that Vieiro had allegedly committed additional violations in her administrative position.

Vieiro was not mentioned on June 25.

Police Chief John Mioduszewski is serving as the township administrator in Vieiro’s absence.

In other business, the committee voted unanimously to introduce an amended ordinance – which was further amended that evening – which would, if adopted, prohibit a person from serving as Holmdel’s township administrator for two years after they have concluded their service as an elected official at the federal, state, county or municipal level.

Township Committee members agreed to expand the two-year restriction to members of the Holmdel Township Schools Board of Education.

School board members are elected officials and if the ordinance is adopted, no member of the board will be permitted to serve as the township administrator for two years following the conclusion of their service on the school board.