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CURLEY: INVESTIGATE DEAD MAN’S COMMENT

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A comment attributed to the late Monmouth County Freeholder Harry Larrison Jr. while he was under investigation for public corruption has raised some eyebrows at Red Bank Borough Hall.

The remark appeared in an Asbury Park Press story Sunday, a look-back at the federal investigation dubbed Operation Bid Rig, which wound up in charges against nearly two dozen elected and appointed officials in Monmouth County.

None were from Red Bank. But in a remark caught on tape by his chauffeur, Tony Palughi (then still squiring the recently retired, 78-year-old Larrison around in a county car), Larrison brags of his clout in winning municipal business for brothers Stephen and Matthew Appolonia, owners of Interntional Trucks of Central Jersey. And he implies that some of that grease was applied in Red Bank.

While ranting that International hadn’t given his own company, Larrison Fuel Oil, a break on an invoice, Larrison said, according to Press reporter Bob Cullinane’s story:

“How about the ——— hours I spent on the phone with Middletown, Red Bank and Howell? (Appolonia) was ——— in Howell until I got into the act. Isn’t my time worth something?” he gripes to Palughi, according to FBI transcripts of tape recordings. But when Palughi tries to offer Larrison advice, the former freeholder barks, “Keep your mouth shut . . . shut! It’s nobody’s business but mine.”

At last night’s Borough Council meeting, Republican John Curley brought up the Press story, and said he had “contacted the FBI to request a full investigation of these comments.”

Curley then immediately segued into a reference to the borough’s $2.45 million purchase last February of property on which the Cedar Crossings affordable housing project is to be built. Curley said he had asked the FBI to investigate that as well.

“I do not believe that deal was legal,” Curley said with rising anger.

Mayor Pasquale Menna said he, too, had been taken aback by Larrison’s purported remark.

“If you have any information, I would be happy to chauffeur you to (U.S. Attorney) Chris Christie’s office myself,” Menna told Curley.

Larrison was charged with bribery in April, 2005 but died of cancer a month later without facing trial.

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