Local farmer not happy by delayed return of funds

The money could be held, Privitera said, if the Attorney General's office filed an appeal of Meyer's decision, but they had taken no such action.

Though he had planned to be out of the office that day, Manning sent a letter to both lawyers on Nov. 21 requesting a judge's order to release the funds. Meyer made such an order that same day in acceptance of Lewis Family Farm's proposed judgement.

"[Mrs. Simon's] objection is without merit," Meyer wrote, stating that the appellate order was only in effect pending his determination of the stay.

Anxious to have the $50,000 returned, Lewis took a copy of the order directly to the Essex County government building only to find that both Diskin and Manning were not present. According to Lewis, one county official requested police to come remove him from the building after he demanded to be put in contact with Manning.

Though the money was released to Lewis on Nov. 21, he argued that Simon acted improperly by encouraging Manning to withhold the funds, and that in turn, Manning, and Diskin acted improperly in delaying the release.

Manning, who had no involvement with the case prior to Nov. 20, said his request for an order was not meant to show partiality to either Lewis or the Attorney General's office, and that it was unfair for either side to pressure him toward a decision in the matter.

"I can tell you that he got his money a lot faster than he would have in any other county," Manning said.

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