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Human Interest - Bristol Township

State Ethics Investigation Clears LBJMA Managing Director, But Has to Make $5000.00 “Donation”

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During the latter part of this summer, Lower Bucks Source was contacted by concerned citizens with regards to a, then, an investigation launched by the state ethics commission into Managing Director of the Lower Bucks County Joint Municipal Authority Dr. Vijay Rajput,

On Monday the results of the investigation were made public by the ethics commission in which Rajput “fully and unequivocally denies having committed any violation of the Ethics Act, including but not limited to his alleged private use of the storage shed/common area, but without admitting any violation and solely for purposes of resolution of this matter, Dr. Rajput agrees that if this matter went to a hearing, and respondent presented no other exculpatory evidence in support of his defense at hearing, the Investigative Division could, by circumstantial evidence, meet the requisite evidentiary standard, and that a fact finder could find based on that evidence that he violated Section 1103(a) of the Ethics Act..”

Moreover Rajput was ordered to fulfill his agreement that S2A make a voluntary donation in the amount of $5,000.00 payable to LBCJMA and forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission on behalf of LBJMA.

Credit: Linkedin

Also as part of the consent decree Rajput also agrees to:

  1.  …Respondent is ordered to not ask for or accept any reimbursement, compensation or other payment from the LBCJMA representing a full or partial reimbursement of the donation made by S2A.
  2.  Respondent is directed to fulfill the terms of the parties’ Consent Agreement by doing the following to avoid any future appearance of impropriety and/or potential conflict of interest:
  3.  Respondent will not utilize LBCJMA’s physical facilities, including the storage shed/common area, to conduct any trainings or perform any work outside the scope of his direct employment with the LBCJMA, including trainings or other work on behalf of himself, S2A, or any other private entity for private payment, without first obtaining approval by a vote of the LBCJMA Board of Directors, which shall have the exclusive discretion to determine whether Respondent and/or S2A may utilize the LBCJMA’s facilities, the amount of any fee or charge that shall be required to be paid, if any, and any other conditions that the LBCJMA’s Board of Directors shall deem to be appropriate.  The Investigative Division may advise the LBCJMA’s Board members by a written letter, which may be sent to their attorney to forward to the Board, that they are entitled to charge a reasonable fee for S2A to use its facilities, if they wish.

S2A is owned and operated by his wife, according to the most recent records available.

The Ethics Act says a conflict of interest can arise if an official, employee or their immediate family could financially benefit from a decision of the governing body.

This is not the first time, Rajput ethical concerns have arisen relating to the matter cited by the commission Monday. 

In 2019, the Intelligencer reported “Rajput’s past statements on his involvement with his wife’s company, S2A Technologies Inc.”

 

The Managing Director, according to the 2019 report, is listed as the primary contact for S2A on the state’s ‘Sponsor catalog’ along with an address that appears in Bucks County property records as a residence owned by couple.”.

The Intell reporting was based upon depositions Rajput gave in a federal lawsuit filed by an authority employee.

It’s that kind of perceived conflict of interest the Pennsylvania Public Official and Employee Ethics Act specifically addresses, and prohibits where public officials and employees could financially benefit themselves.

The crux of the matter, the sources say, and the final report indicates is that required credentialed training provided by Rajput, as an alleged employee of S2A, a company, family members owns and operates was being performed using LBJMA property and facilities.

Board Chairman for LBJMA, Joe Glasson, and also a Bristol Township Councilman said on Tuesday “yes the optics are bad, but the man did absolutely nothing wrong and the entire board is 1000 percent behind Dr Rajput.”

This was a complaint most likely filed by a disgruntled employee, complaining that V.J was using authority property- pencils would you believe- that’s all this was, Glasson said.

Dr Rajput is a highly respected and accomplished man in his field. The state environmental protection agency often uses him for his expertise in the field. We’re truly lucky to have him, he said.

“There is no there, there,” Glasson added sternly said.

In August when first digging into the allegations by the multiple sources who contacted Lower Bucks Source about an ongoing investigation, what lent credibility were source documents provided to us. Showing the actual documents could possibly reveal the sources of the information this publication agreed not to reveal, the information clearly showed an investigation was ongoing at LBJMA.

The information provided identified fees for legal services that were billed to the authority in excess of $32,000.0o by an outside legal firm.

At the time this publication contacted the State Ethics Commission Executive Director Mary W. Fox. She would not confirm or deny an existing investigation of LBJMA or Rajput. She did however say if there was an investigation ongoing hypothetically, the findings would be published to the ethics commission website.

Asked if at anytime in the past were referrals made to the Attorney General’s office when findings revealed potential criminal actions, by the agency of individuals working within it, Fox said referrals have been made in the past, but couldn’t site from memory, since she just took the position in April.

It depends on the case and jurisdiction, she added, citing the Pennsylvania Ethics Act section 1108. 

Fox on Monday said as long as the consent decree is adhered to there will be no further action for the commission to take.

In September Lower Bucks Source submitted an open records request seeking billing information for legal services provided. The request was rejected, in part, because the records quite possibly are a part of ongoing investigation.

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The publication chose not to appeal the rejected request because we were already in possession of payment records.

Each of the human sources, who do not know each other said the essentially the same thing after reviewing the published decision. 

He’s getting away with it again, all three said.

When calling Rajput on Monday for comment about the posted investigative decision, this publication was told he was out of the office and requested to leave a message on his voicemail, he picked up the phone.

After a brief off the record exchange, Rajput declined to comment and said he needed to consult with the authorities solicitor before doing so, on Monday.

This publication did not hear back from him as of 4 pm Thursday.

The Lower Bucks County Joint Municipal Authority is governed by a Board of Directors which consists of three (3) appointed members from Bristol Township and three (3) appointed members from Tullytown Borough. Each member is appointed by their respective Council to a five (5) year term, according to the LBJMA website.

 

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

New LBTQ+ Advocacy Group Fairness Pennsylvania Launches

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Fairness Pennsylvania (FPA), the first full-time statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights program in several years kicked off on Monday, June 3 with Pennsylvania organizers, advocates, and legislators  at the state Capitol.

“We are ready to hit the ground running,” said Sarah Hammond, Fairness PA’s State Director, in a press release. “There are so many engaged activists and strong voices working right now in communities across the state. Our first priority is to identify ways that a new, statewide organization can assist these dedicated activists to move the needle here in Harrisburg and around the state.”

Hammond said. “…FPA is dedicated to promoting equality and fostering nondiscrimination principles in PA so that our LGBTQ+ community can be open, honest, and safe at home, at work, and in our communities across the state.”

In a statement, Governor Josh Shapiro said, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was founded on the ideals of tolerance and understanding and I’m proud to stand alongside Fairness PA as they work to promote those values and build a better, stronger Commonwealth for all.”

Credit: Submitted

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, who you love, or who you pray to, you deserve equal protection under the law in Pennsylvania….” said Shapiro. “It’s long past time we put partisanship aside and pass a nondiscrimination law that protects LGBTQ Pennsylvanians,” continued the press release.

Hammond said that an immediate priority for Fairness PA would be passage of the Fairness Act, which would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the state, according to the press release. The Fairness Act passed in the state House in April 2023 but has yet to be considered in the state Senate. Shapiro earlier this year called on on the General Assembly to finally come together and pass the Fairness Act.

Fairness Pennsylvania can be found online at fairnesspenn.org or @FairnessPA on social media.

For more information, please visit Fairness PA or contact Pete Shelly at pshelly@clearpointpa.com.

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bristol Township

Randall Ave Bridge Restoration Project to Begin Next Week

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The long awaited and much anticipated work to the Randall Avenue Bridge in Bristol Township will begin in earnest next week, township manager Randee J. Mazur said Thursday.

We have an executed agreement with Haines and Kibblehouse based in Chalfont H & K) in the amount of  $1,085,260.00. The project was originally planned to start June 21st and was pushed back a week by Amtrak to now begin Friday, June 28th,” she said.

Mobilization for the work began earlier today, with  setting up the construction laydown areas. They plan to use a portion of Pitt Avenue that is closed and will set up temporary chain link fence with a lock to secure all materials and equipment, officials said.

The Project Schedule is as follows:

6/28/24 to 7/1/24 – 55 Hour Outage on Track 3 with nighttime outage on Track 2

7/12/24 to 7/15/24 – 55 Hour Outage on Track 2 with nighttime outage on Track 3

7/26/24 to 7/29/24 – 55 Hour Outage on Track 1 with nighttime outage on Track 2

The bridge work, with no delays to the schedule, should be completed by the end of July, Mazur said.

Randal Ave Bridge Closed
Credit: Lower Bucks Source

“Gilmore and Associates is finalizing the abutment project bid and details, should be completed early July and then we will solicit bids for this work.”

If the abutments are ready for work, then with contract awarded, this work could start as early as July or August and is estimated to take three months. The abutments are what is required for the 3.5-ton limit and there is discussion with the work being done that it may be able to be increased once completed. The township manager said, our police department was advised we will need truck enforcement for the bridge to enforce whatever weight limit there is while we continue to work on design and funding for a full bridge replacement.

The 169-foot span bridge in the Edgely section of the township has been closed since February of 2023 after chunks of the bridge fell onto the ground and onto the Amtrak and SEPTA rail lines below. For the 16 months township officials have worked feverishly reviewing solutions, applying for grants, speaking, and meeting with  civil construction companies and leveraging county, state, and federal officials seeking help and support.

A community meeting held by the township in January involving officials from state, federal, and Amtrak offices seems to have put the project in motion. For almost a year there was little to no movement on what exactly should be done, due in part to Amtrak’s specific guidelines and requirements, one official, who asked not be identified said.

The project has gone back to using hi rail equipment for some of the work. H&K has their hi rail inspection scheduled for June 26th. H&K is planning to mobilize today and start setting up the construction laydown areas today and tomorrow (6/20 & 6/21). They plan to use a portion of Pitt Avenue that is closed and will set up a temporary chain link fence with a lock to secure all materials/equipment, Mazur said.

 

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bristol Township

Bristol Woman Charged for Pulling Fire Alarm, Shutting Power at Villager Lodge Motel

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A Bristol woman with a long history of mental health issues and convictions walked into a local motel grabbed a fire extinguisher, discharged its contents and subsequently pulled its fire alarm leading to her arrest early Thursday morning.

According to police, Chrystal Brewington, 33 walked into the Villager Lodge Motel located on the 5300 block of Bristol Pike at just after 4 a.m., Thursday, June 20. She grabbed the fire extinguisher from the wall and discharged its contents in the parking lot. A motel employee implored her to leave the premises immediately. Brewington, not following directions,  returned to the hotel lobby and pulled the fire alarm which led to police and the Third District Fire Company being dispatched to the motel.

Brewington was told to leave again by the establishment’s overnight clerk.

She walked  outside, returning moments later, headed for the breaker panel and shut off the electricity in the motel, the criminal complaint alleges.

Police noted the senselessness of Brewington’s actions since there was no actual fire at the motel.

A second motel employee told police Brewington damaged the alarm system with needed repairs costing $700.00.

She was charged with three misdemeanor offenses- false alarm, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief, She was jailed with bond set at 10 percent of $20,000 and tentatively scheduled for preliminary hearing on July 3.

Prior to this incident Brewington was involved in an incident at the Rodeway Hotel in which Alfred Camp allegedly stabbed her in the leg. 

His preliminary hearing was scheduled for today, however case information has yet to be updated online.

 

 

 

 

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