In Union County, Clark officials find themselves in hot water.
On Monday, the State Attorney General’s Office accused Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso, 63, of misusing public resources by employing town workers in his private landscaping business. These allegations emerged during an investigation into reported instances of racism within the local police department, marking a claim of impropriety against the Republican mayor in Union County.
During a press conference led by Attorney General Matthew Platkin, charges were unveiled against Sal Bonaccorso—the long-standing Mayor of Clark. Simultaneously, Platkin presented a 43-page report accusing police higher-ups of breaching departmental rules. The report also scrutinized Bonaccorso and the town’s police chief for their involvement in “disturbing” racist remarks that were recorded in secret.
Platkin’s inquiry originates from claims that surfaced in 2020, prompting the town to settle a lawsuit for $400,000 with a police lieutenant. This agreement was made to prevent the public release of covert recordings capturing Mayor Bonaccorso and Police Chief Pedro Matos engaging in racist and misogynistic discourse.
Despite the extensive report’s conclusion, no wrongdoing was found. Officials suggested the dismissal of two police figures, including Matos. However, Platkin clarified that he lacks the jurisdiction to terminate their employment.
State investigators disclosed that while serving as mayor, Bonaccorso is accused of utilizing municipal resources for his landscaping enterprise, Bonaccorso & Son. Allegedly, he stored business records within the mayor’s office, employed township devices such as computers and fax machines, and instructed township employees to undertake tasks for his private business, according to state officials.
Platkin’s office further contends that Bonaccorso improperly orchestrated the removal of hundreds of underground storage tanks across nearly two dozen towns, beginning in 2017. The allegations suggest he lacked the essential permits for this work and purportedly used an engineer’s name and license number fraudulently, even forging a signature on permit applications without the engineer’s awareness.
A slew of other allegations were made against Mayor Bonaccorso, as well as a growing movement of people demanding his resignation. Bonaccorso expressed remorse for the racist comments but doubled down that he would not step down from his position in the wake of the scandal(s).
Platkin’s report against the police department calls for the removal of two officers, Matos and Sgt. Joseph Teston. Since the investigation began, both men were placed on paid leave. Platkin has since reassured the public that these men are unfit to serve and should be permanently terminated.