Presumed innocent, and pay worthy

    Should taxpayers continue paying politicians indicted on corruption charges?

    A New Jersey appeals court found that former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas is entitled to the state salary he lost in the spring of 2009, when he was hit with state and federal indictments on charges including money laundering, misuse of his mayor’s office and more.

    It was a big deal at the time, since 43 other people were charged in the same sting operation involving an FBI informant posing as a corrupt developer.

    Vas was a state assemblyman then, and the Assembly Speaker suspended him without pay.

    Vas didn’t seek re-election, but after his conviction in federal court and guilty plea in state court he tried to get his legislative back pay on the argument that he was punished before he was found guilty of anything.

    A three-judge panel agreed. Judge Anthony Parrillo wrote that the decision to yank Vas’s salary lacked constitutional authority and “contravened the Assembly’s very own internal rules for disciplining its members.”

    You can read more about the case from the Star Ledger’s Tom Haydon here.

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