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Ex-Wall Schools Super Hires Former Prosecutor

James F. Habel hires former First Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor

Ex-Wall Township Schools Superintendent James Habel has hired a former high ranking member of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office after investigators from that same office conducted an early morning raid on his Point Pleasant home Thursday.

Habel has hired former First Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Robert A. Honecker Jr. to represent him, Honecker confirmed Friday.

"Mr. Habel intends to fully cooperate with the Prosecutor's Office, and we'll see where this investigation concludes,'' Honecker said. "Obviously, we think that when it does conclude, Mr. Habel will be exonerated."

. The office also served subpoenas late last month to the Wall Township Schools administrative offices for records relating to Habel.

Honecker said Habel retained him earlier this week, ahead of Thursday's raid. it became clear, Honecker said, that investigators were looking for documents relating to Habel's employment with the Wall School district. He was not more specific.

Habel, who served as Wall Schools chief from 2003 until his retirement in June, has not been charged with a crime.

Christopher Gramiccioni has not said what investigators were looking for, only that an investigation took place.

Honecker, a partner in the Ocean Township-based firm of Ansel, Grimm & Aaron, served as Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor before leaving the office five years ago. He specializes in criminal defense.

"Mr. Habel has nothing to hide and has committed no wrongs and he will continue to fully cooperate,'' Honecker said.

JD September 14, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Well, if his wife is a full-time resident in Florida... He said he never took vacation and took a huge number for unused vacation days... How is it that he never took vacation days to go to Florida... oh... I see... he was working at his satellite office!! It appears they are going after the lump sum payments at his retirement for unused vacation, etc.
Gary G. September 15, 2012 at 01:23 AM
If they don't find him guilty of any crime something is wrong with this picture. I think we need the FBI...We need to check out more than his unused vacation and sick days. All his dealings with the insurance company Brown and Brown should be checked. They should be able to connect all the presents he received. He was in Florida on medical leave two years in a row. He was more in Florida than NJ at his cushy board office.
Kathy Dweck September 15, 2012 at 03:35 AM
The BOE paid Dr. Habel, a Doctor of Education the amount of money that was the going rate at the time. The fact that times became tougher financially all around would not make him adjust his contracts value when he planned his life style around it.It is not reasonable to think he should. whether he falsified records regarding his vacay / sick leave - unused- that's another matter. There is no way anyone who has not held a position (volunteer) on the BOE has any reason to question them.
AH September 15, 2012 at 09:10 AM
Everything should be questioned. It should not be a free for all when it is other individuals that have to pay for it all. You have to say to yourself, would I want to pay for this, is it worth it. Should I check out other vendors, insurance or anything else that is purchased. Take the little extra time to compare prices.
Allenwoodie September 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM
I firmly believe that Habel has hired the former First Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Robert A. Honecker Jr. for one reason and one reason only. Habel believes that Honecker's connections with the prosecutor's office will have some type of influence over the outcome of this investigation. This in itself should be investigated if they find Habel guilty of no wrong doing. This is certainly no way to clear Habel's "good name."
Kidding me! September 15, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Perhaps everything you are saying is true, BUT, his contract and every other BOE Super contract are unrealistic. Benefits for life and unlimited carry over of sick and vacation are crazy. I don't blame the super for signing these contracts but I do blame the board abd board attorneys for doing the same. Paying someone 225k a year if that is what the job is worth is not the issue. 11 years worth of vacation time to carry over? really?
Kathy Dweck September 15, 2012 at 01:55 PM
My point is that the salary for a superintendent position with credentials of having a degree as a Dr. of Education was, at the time was the going rate. The fact that the Govenor has been able to cap the salary now, in this era at 160 odd thousand is what was needed. It is also noted that someone would except that monetary salary for a 24/7/ 365 day a week job. The question stands/ if the investigation is about him falsifying records regard using/ or not using sick and vacay time?
Kathleen September 15, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Get real.We all know what goes on in Lily White Wall.Wake up.It is the most corrupt town.All their little secrets,and it is all about whom you know.Why do you think he hired Hoenecker Jr.He will set him free , and guess what our taxes paid for all his luxuries and the expense of Honecker assistance.Glad we pulled out of that wanna be town in 2006.People of Wall please pay attention.
bobbotb September 15, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Should be easy to find out how much time he spent in Florida. If he was in Florida he could not have been working for thee Wall taxpayers. If he did not take leave when he was in Florida he and whoever keeps his time should be held accountable, Seems the current Board could do their own investigation and review the books and interview whoever kept his time as well.
Joan September 16, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Get Real is right!! I don't care what the going rate was at that time. The BOE continued to add to his package even when times were at its worst. The economy going down by the second and they are still giving him generous deal even when knowing he applied for the job down in Florida. He was totally unfair and did some real damage and injustice to many Wall Families. Very Nasty man, he did for he wanted to and looked over everyone else including the Wall Township kids. I hope they check him out thoroughly and nail him to the wall as he deserves. Honecker Jr. should be investigated too if he is going to look the other way to for this low life of a man. Kathy...Wake up... The residents are not that dumb. 24/7 365 day a week job? MY butt... He was never there the last 5 years, he was always out somewhere else...give us a break with your ridiculous excuses and support.
Kathy Dweck September 16, 2012 at 04:09 PM
I am not defending him, I'm just saying about contracts. My Dad was a County Superintendent back in the late 70's in north Jersey. My mother was a Professor of Education at Monmouth College. They have a very nice retirement for themselves. They worked very hard. I am all for an investigation of Dr. Habel.. I just can not in my heart, call me naive, believe that the parents that put their time into being on the BOE, have ulterior motives. But I am going to bow out of the discussion. My children are no longer in the school system, I wish the best of luck to those who are choosing to run for the BOE , and may the best of them get in and I hope they can achieve great things for the township schools.
Joan September 16, 2012 at 04:35 PM
There is a lot of individuals who have worked very hard and don't receive such a great retirement. There is some decent individuals who always do what is right in life and there is many that don't, who definitely have their own ulterior motives.
Really? September 16, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Both you & Kathy are correct Joan. It's shame on us for not looking at the contracts. He was given the world. You think people would have learned the lesson after Smith-Stevens. I bet we're STILL paying she and her husbands benefits!
D September 16, 2012 at 11:05 PM
I wonder if James Habel is practicing his famous few words...Wait for the dust to settle....Well, the educational system is a small world, he wasn't kidding when he stated that statement. To bad, nothing can be done...unfortunately my hands are tied.
Chief Wahoo September 17, 2012 at 02:54 AM
the BA is no good !!!......heck he is from TR, that should be proof enough TIME TO WAKE UP PEOPLE, FROM YOUR 20 YEAR SLUMBER !!!!!!!!!!!
Leave it on the Field September 17, 2012 at 03:45 AM
You don't fight a vacation day dispute with a criminal defense attorney. Give us the program details from Nova Southeastern University in Florida where Drs James Habel & Sandra Brower both received their Ed.D.'s. Habel states he "negotiated venture capital agreements to build Wall's state-of-art athletic complex @ NO COST to the district." Do you know how many people are now praying that Ritacco-like pals did not 'sponsor' Habel's newly built Dunedin, Florida home & that no one offered or accepted bribes in the district to award or secure work at the Wall Athletic Complex Habel put himself in charge of? This '85-'86 Pt. Beach H.S. Football + Wrestling Head Coach (title on 2008 resume sent to Pinellas County FL District) takes credit for the Wall Education Foundation which was founded by a Pt. Beach FAVORITE SON named Pete Cancro & other caring community-minded citizens in Monmouth County. Let's hope that Dr. James Habel did not mock & undermine 2 decades of charity from people like Mr. Cancro, Jersey Mike's & others at the expense of all Wall Township's children.
Really? September 17, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Duh? Thank you to poster on Pt. Patch for bringing up a good point that I totally missed, that has been in this article since Friday. Honecker, stated he was hired by Habel before the raid. How did he know? Could it have been the same person or persons who gave Brown & Brown the heads up to change their bid?
bobbotb September 17, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Nova Southeastern University ? A mail order diploma mill. And I bet he had the taxpayer pay for it! Didn't they let go that super in Freehold for similar kind of doctorate? Who reviewed his resume?
cee September 18, 2012 at 07:45 AM
Wow, so this should be investigated along with Brown & Brown, his diploma and his grossly over paid pymt of sick days.
cee September 18, 2012 at 07:46 AM
The BOE members who review everything else...
cee September 18, 2012 at 07:59 AM
BOE members do a lot of damage behind the tax payers back. They hide a lot behind close doors. They make decisions that affect the community children, the superintendent and BOE sets the tone for the entire town. I think Christie should come out with an ethics law against BOE members. They need to be taken down if they are going to abuse their power in many different ways.
Leave it on the Field September 18, 2012 at 06:04 PM
For the love of Wall Township's kids, if you saw something, say something. The following request from the Prosecutor's Office can be found in Asbury Park Press on-line today: "Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Monday he cannot comment on the Habel matter. The county did ask, however, for those with information to call the Prosecutor’s Office at 732-431-7160."
Leave it on the Field September 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I challenge everyone to Google "United States of America v Michael J. Riacco & Francis X. Gartland" to see the actual indictment & all the counts against them. When you do that, you'll realize that there are very few NJ BOE members 'qualified' to notice or root out the kind of criminal behavior that played out in Tom's River. Mr. Ritacco & his pals counted on that FACT. Now Google "Ritacco, Michael - Department of Justice - Honorable Garrett E. Brown v. : Crim No. 10-713 (GEB) Michael J. Ritacco" & read the 50 pgs in one sitting. Try to imagine all those fraudulant transactions existing while the BOE smiled or slept as millions of taxpayer dollars changed hands. After we're done being sick, all school districts should consider employing & paying a Big-4 Accounting Audit Team (KPMG, E&Y) rather than giant salaries and separation payouts to superintendents who can harm your entire district if they choose to. Ban them all from participating in vendor selection if you don't have a "legitimate process" that will root out whether or not they or BOE members & their family members are partners, stakeholders or silent benefactors in such firms. Do biz cautiously with firms that give you only a P.O. Box & go to the address tied to the PO. Do random audits of vendor books, ops & bank accounts. Allow no subcontractors to support primary vendors unless their corp background, D&B & credit histories have been thoroughly researched & approved by qualified finance professionals.
bobbotb September 18, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Problem as i see it is we elect unqualied people to be on the Boards. I am sure that most are very nice people and have good intentions but have no background in finance, management or business. So when the super says something they have no recourse but to accept what they say as gospel. They dont challenge things as they dont want to look like obstructionists. we need more qualified people to run for these Boards. It has more power than the Mayor or any council member in terms of our tax burden.
p September 19, 2012 at 11:25 AM
What B.S....They know exactly what they are doing. They are adults and they should know by now. What is right from wrong. The BOE State wide in NJ is corrupted. TR is a perfect example what is going on. They all know, they just looked the other way because they were getting jobs for their own. Who wants to stop that gravy train. You can go in to any school and start connecting the dots, and it does not stop in that district schools it overlaps in other districts. They are constantly swamping with each other. You hire mine and will hire yours. We need to start investigating all the BOE and they all should sign an accountability wavier on decisions being made. It is ridiculous what they get away with. They should be punished and charged for giving all these perks to their friends and the superintendent in charge when they know it is blatantly wrong. They should be the boss of these superintendents instead the superintendents are their boss.
Joseph lankewicz June 13, 2013 at 04:32 PM
They should not be able to save their vacation time use it or lose it same with sick days and should have to report in everyday! And be photographed! To prove that they were there! This is B.S. tax payers are getting the shaft!
KERRI HABEL August 07, 2013 at 01:54 PM
James Habel is sadly my uncle... Hes a peice of crap, hes a liar.. All he cares about is money .. When my gpa got sick he couldnt care less my daddy and my aund D took care of him ... Years goes by and jimmy and the other siblings never once called or came or saw there dying father!!!! So my gpa left a little bit more money to my dad n D cuz they took him in their homes n took care of him...even built on to accommodate my gpad needs!! Then when my gpa passed away jimmy n the other scum bag siblings who hadn't seen there father in years.. Took the 2 people who took care of my gpa to court for more money... Jimmy is getting Karma...

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