Whistleblower Suit Hangs Heavy Over Coronato

Emails raise serious questions about the relationship between former Prosecutor Coronato and convicted felons John Brogan and George Gilmore

By Art Gallagher

TOMS RIVER– Win or lose on Tuesday, former Ocean County Prosecutor Joe Coronato is going to have his hands full defending the civil whistleblower lawsuit filed by Michael Paulhus.

Paulhus, a 25 year career prosecutor who held the number three position in the Prosecutor’s Office, was terminated after informing Coronato of suspected wrong doing by John Brogan, a self-professed addiction recovery specialist, who had a very public relationship with Coronato due to the ongoing opioid crises.

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Brogan was accused of arranging for an addict who had just been released from jail on probation to consume an illegal controlled dangerous in order than she would fail a drug test and get into a Florida rehab facility.  He was also accused of threatening to sabotage a probationer’s status with the court if he was not paid.

Paulhus, in the course of his duties as Executive Assistant Prosecutor who oversaw internal affairs and public corruption cases, brought these allegations to Coronato’s attention in May of 2018, according to the lawsuit.  (Find the lawsuit online: https://tinyurl.com/yxwoxujw)

Less than a month following bringing the allegations of Brogan’s wrongdoing to Prosecutor Coronato’s attention, Paulhus was called into an unscheduled meeting where Coronato told him his employment would be terminated in October of 2018 (which coincided with Coronato’s expected departure). 

In July of 2018, Paulhus’ attorney wrote Coronato urging him to reverse the termination.  Paulhus was then hastily terminated and accused of creating a hostile work environment.   All these details and more are laid out in the suit. (https://tinyurl.com/yxwoxujw)

During that period, there are hundreds of emails between Coronato and Brogan that were uncovered by OPRAmachine.com. (https://opramachine.com/request/we_are_requesting_joseph_coronat#incoming-9749)

The emails reveal a close relationship where prosecution and treatment of drug addicts is discussed, as are travel arrangements for both men to Boston and Washington, DC.  Coronato told Brogan “you’re killing me,” in one email where Brogan appeared to be extending an invitation to a political fundraiser.

Two emails during that period are unusual and involve former Republican Chairman George Gilmore, now a convicted felon.

On June 22, 2018, Brogan  forwarded an email to Coronato from Robert Stone, Jr of R. STONE AND CO, INC. which included plans for a residential drug treatment facility at 1181 Route 37.  Stone’s email to Brogan was also sent to Gilmore.  Why was the Prosecutor, Coronato, being kept in the loop on the construction of a private drug treatment facility?

Fast forward to March of 2019, Stone was a member of Gilmore’s Republican screening committee that endorsed Coronato for mayor over Mo Hill by one vote.

The other email that seems to involve Gilmore was on June 11, 2018. It was one of a string of emails about a trip to Boston that Brogan was inviting Coronato to for a political fundraiser that was called a Heroin Task Force. “My phone is blowing up today, I just left Monmouth, are you in your office?  I’m at GG’s office.”  Brogan wrote in response to Coronato saying, two hours earlier, that the Boston trip would open him to criticism and that Washington was cleaner.

It’s too soon to draw legal conclusions about the lawsuit.   Brogan has denied the allegations against him. Coronato told The Asbury Park Press that the lawsuit is “unfounded” and a “ruse” to cover up Paulhus’ “well documented” harassment of other employees of the Prosecutor’s Office.

But it is safe to draw political conclusions.   The allegations in the lawsuit and the emails posted on OPRAMachine will be great fodder for Toms River Democrats come September and October if Joe Coronato is the Republican nominee for Mayor.

If you think the glossy mailers that Coronato and Dan Rodrick have been hurling at each other during this primary campaign are bad, the Democrats mail against Coronato will be much worse if he wins on Tuesday.

Toms River Democrats made unprecedented gains in the last municipal election, winning three of four Ward Council Seats in 2017.  Toms River Republicans need to put their best team forward in November.  The Coronato team is not the strongest ticket.

Go with Mo.

Republican strategist Art Gallagher is the editor/publisher of MoreMonmoutMusings, a conservative blog that has been covering the Jersey Shore and NJ politics since 2006. Gallagher’s work has been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The Star Ledger, The Asbury Park Press, NJ 101.5, and News 12.  He is a frequent contributor to SaveJersey.com and TheTommyGShow on WCTC 1450 AM. Gallagher was named one of New Jersey’s Top 100 Media Personalities by InSiderNJ.com in 2017 and 2018.

Paid for by Mo Hill for Mayor. 300 Woodview Ct. Toms River

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