Trenton: Ex-Health Director Assails Federal Witnesses Accusations

Source: The Trentonian

Shakira Abdul-Ali, who served as Trenton’s director of health and human services under Mayor Reed Gusciora from 2018 to 2020, attacked a federal witness as a fraud will be shown to have deceived investigators about time-fraud claims made against the city’s environmental health bureau.

Abdul-Ali also defended principal environmentalist Martin Moore as a “paradigm of professionalism” in online posts attacking a report that documented Moore’s overtime and double time gains.

Records showed that Moore, who makes more than $113,360 in salary, raked in more than $47,000 in overtime and double time through the first five months of 2019. Records uncovered by The Trentonian showed that Moore billed more than 470 hours of overtime and double time the first 18 work weeks of 2019.

Federal prosecutors served subpoenas on Trenton City Hall last week, demanding documents related to the city’s alleged mishandling of a $2 million lead-remediation grant.

Abdul-Ali said she refused to remain “silent” while environmental health bureau employees who worked under her command were “dragged thru [sic] the mud.”

“There is not a fibre [sic] of doubt in my body that this investigation will show the entire department to be squeaky clean,” Abdul-Ali wrote on Facebook. “They take pride in the work they do,” she wrote. “This trashing sickens me.”

Abdul-Ali said the city was responsible not only for lead testing and remediation in Trenton but “several other communities in this state.” Tracking and investigating those cases and performing lead-removal is time-consuming, especially for a team of “maybe 5 people” tasked with other duties that include restaurant inspections, Abdul-Ali added.

A former city employee went to the feds claiming that employees in Trenton’s environmental health bureau inflated the number of hours of work they did removing lead paint from more than 100 city homes. The Trentonian is not naming the ex-employee who fears further retaliation.

The ex-city employee claimed in a letter authenticated by The Trentonian that Abdul-Ali and Health Officer Yvette Graffie-Cooper called up the individual’s new employer with false claims painting the ex-Trenton employee as unprofessional and a thief.

City spokesman Tim Carroll said officials must ensure city property is returned whenever an employee’s tenure ends, but, in this case, “contacting their employer is not an acceptable practice.”

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