NJ: Former Health and Human Services Director Pantaleo “Leo” Pellegrini alleges Hoboken cannabis dispensary license process shady in lawsuit.

Headyn writes

Pellegrini said applicants favored by Hoboken Mayor and congressional candidate Ravi Bhalla were given special treatment in his lawsuit filed in Hudson County Superior Court.

Hoboken would not be the only New Jersey town confirmed to be playing shady political games with cannabis license applicants.

Former Hoboken Official’s Strange Departure

Pellegrini began serving the city of Hoboken under former Mayor Dawn Zimmer in 2009. The lawsuit alleges he was forced to resign in May 2023. His departure seemed strange at the time. Shortly afterward, the Hoboken Council approved hiring the noted lawyer Matt Boxer to investigate his departure.

Zimmer publicly thanked Pellegrini for his years of service after he resigned. However, this seemed to have enraged Bhalla.

“The complaint, littered with false claims, is clearly written by a disgruntled former employee who resigned after being notified he was going to be terminated based upon an investigation, conducted by former State comptroller Matt Boxer. Which found reasonable cause to believe the director engaged in unlawful and corrupt conduct in the course of his city employment. In fact, this matter was referred to and is being investigated by the FBI,” Hoboken city spokesperson Marilyn Baer said in an email.

“We anticipate that law enforcement will be taking the appropriate action in the near future,” she added.

So, after being hired, Boxer wrote a memo to the Hoboken Assistant Corporation Counsel that Pellegrini himself is corrupt. He wrote, “There is reasonable cause to believe that the Director engaged in unlawful, corrupt conduct in the course of his City employment.”

The memo does not say what Pellegrini did. But someone like Boxer would not likely say such a thing lightly.

“It would be appropriate for the City to refer this matter to law enforcement to take any steps they deem warranted,” Boxer added.

“There is no investigation. It’s a wild accusation,” Pellegrini’s attorney Giovanni Di Pierro said. “I would assume my client would obviously tell me if there’s under investigation.”


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