Orange City Hall under FBI Investigation
ORANGE, NJ — The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the Orange municipal building last Wednesday and shut it down for the day. “A search warrant was executed by the FBI in the city of Orange Township,” Orange public information Officer, Keith Royster, said on Tuesday, January 17. “City Hall was closed on January 11, but opened January 12 at 8:30 a.m. The city is cooperating with authorities.”
This latest event comes after the Public Library was raided in July and the FBI started investigating allegations of theft of federal government funds, conspiracy to commit theft and accept corrupt payments, wire fraud, and money laundering by city officials. Among those officials are former acting business administrator Willis Edwards and Tyshammie Cooper, the current chief of staff for Mayor Dwayne Warren and a former director who served on the Orange Public Library’s board. Although claims were made that the Public Library is a separate entity from city government, a couple of years ago, the city took over the library’s payroll operations.
The recent raid on the city hall indicates that the FBI has been expanding its investigation. Judge Michael A. Hammer signed a search-and-seizure warrant, which allowed the FBI to look into other possible breaches of federal law. The Essex Times found that the FBI is now looking through records going back to 2012, when the mayor was sworn into office.
Bruce Meyer, a member of the Budget Advisory Committee, stated the following in a Facebook post: “Thank you, FBI and the media for finally shedding light on the flagrant abuses our citizens and the vast majority of city workers have suffered over the years… There is no reason that we should bear the cost and humiliation brought on by the greed and incompetence of a handful of our municipal government ‘public servants’…The coming indictments, prosecutions and convictions are not an end in themselves, but a beginning. We cannot sit back and expect the FBI and the press to make things right in our community. As Obama emphasized in his farewell address: ’Change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged and come together to demand it.”
Other residents of Orange also expressed their anger and placed blame at Edwards and Cooper. “This is something that should have been investigated a long time ago. The FBI is doing the right thing by looking into these matters,” said one resident. Another resident called for the resignation of the mayor. “Warren should resign. The city of Orange has been through enough. Closing city hall is a serious thing, and if it happens on your watch, it’s a problem. And it is not up to the current mayor to fix this problem. He should step aside and let someone else clean up the mess”.
January 20, 2017