Inside Ocean County Government

Little Egg Harbor

Little Egg Harbor Patronage Hire Accused of Sexual Harassment

Fromosky

Another member of Ocean County Freeholder Director John P. “Jack” Kelly’s family has gotten themselves into legal trouble at the public job they obtained through Kelly’s political connections. Michael J. Fromosky, an in-law of Kelly’s is facing township discipline charges stemming from alleged incidents of sexual harassment against female coworkers while employed by Little Egg Harbor Township.

Michael Fromosky

Michael Fromosky

Freeholder Kelly

Freeholder Kelly

In 2015, Michael J. Fromosky, a relative of Freeholder Kelly, was set to become the “division director” of the Ocean County Corrections Department, a newly created $115,000 per year position that nobody else had the chance to apply for. Fromosky’s hopes for getting the jail job were later derailed after it caused a very public scandal and backlash from corrections officers.

The patronage subterfuge was a politically messy move on Kelly’s part that blew up in the face of the freeholder’s colleagues, as Kelly did not share the fact that he’s related to Fromosky with his fellow freeholders.

After losing out on the county position, Fromosky, like many of those that are favored by the political bosses, landed on his feet and quickly scored another public job, with this one coming courtesy of Little Egg Harbor. After being employed as an assistant township administrator – and leaving that post to pursue the short-lived county job – Fromosky was given a new position, with the job title “code enforcement officer trainee” as a consolation prize, in a move that was reported to be orchestrated by county Republican officials later in 2015.

Kelly In-Law Allegedly Made Inappropriate Comments To Female Colleagues

At his current Little Egg Harbor job, “Mike made some comments to a female co-worker a while back, much to the effect that she was having relations with the chief,” one source familiar with the accusations said. Another source with knowledge of the charges said that they were filed against Fromosky shortly after he returned to work at the township several months ago, with the township disciplinary charges specifically noting two female township employees and Little Egg Harbor Police Chief Richard Buzby in the writeup.

Chief Buzby

Chief Buzby

Almost all of the details surrounding ongoing public employee discipline proceedings in New Jersey are kept tightly confidential under state law, but multiple sources provided confirmation about the ongoing situation to Ocean County Politics on the condition of anonymity, as officials will not publicly acknowledge the existence or disposition of the charges due to the personnel exemption of the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

The charges were filed sometime after Fromosky returned to work in April, after a technicality in state civil service law governing code enforcement officers saw him terminated for a short period of time, as Fromosky had the “trainee” job title for 1 year, while state law requires that after 1 year with that title the trainee must either be hired on a full-time basis or fired. The township committee permanently hired him for the code enforcement job in April.

A township source said that a disciplinary hearing on the allegations against Fromosky is expected to be held by the end of July. If the township disciplinary charges are sustained, Fromosky could potentially end up losing his job or face other consequences as prescribed by state law. More details about the charges are expected to become after the hearing is held, where Fromosky will be given an opportunity to formally defend himself. According to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, a final decision must be rendered by the township within 20 days of the disciplinary hearing, and employees can appeal them.

Fromosky Not The First Kelly Relative Given Job In Little Egg Harbor

While Fromosky was not named in the recent lawsuit filed by Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Steven Mecka against his employer – which contained allegations of corruption within Little Egg Harbor government – there appears to be some overlap with regard to the involvement of the police chief. It was noted in Detective Mecka’s complaint that other individuals allegedly sought to dig up embarrassing details about Chief Buzby’s personal life, including sexual partners, and use that knowledge for retaliation against the chief.

Fromosky is not the first relative of Freeholder Kelly to get hired in Little Egg Harbor. Kelly’s son, John P. Kelly is employed as a police officer in the township. The freeholder’s daughter, Dawn Marie Kelly, worked in the LEHT tax collector’s office before she was caught stealing thousands of dollars in cash property tax payments.

After taking criticism from internet commenters and others, Freeholder Kelly contended at a public meeting that his son was “competitively hired” from a New Jersey Civil Service list and is qualified for his position.

Mr. Fromosky’s LinkedIn profile lists him as being the “Director of Community Development” for the southern Ocean County town, but the resolution passed that hired him lists his job title of Code Enforcement Officer.

Fromosky is married to Freeholder Kelly’s stepniece, Deborah Kelly Fromosky. Mrs. Fromosky is listed as an employee of the Little Egg Harbor elementary school district.

In addition to the township disciplinary charges, if an attorney were to take on the case of the alleged victims, Little Egg Harbor taxpayers could be on the hook for legal fees and a settlement, as was the case with the township’s municipal utilities authority. Earlier in 2016, the Little Egg Harbor MUA previously paid out a settlement to an employee who sued and claimed that the former executive director – who was the highest paid in all of Ocean County – sexually harassed her in the workplace.

Attempts to reach Mr. Fromosky Thursday via telephone for comment on the matter were unsuccessful.

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