Ethics board reprimands county clerk, deputy

— Essex County Clerk Joseph Provoncha and Deputy Clerk Janet Cross were reprimanded and fined to a combined $4,000 Oct. 12 by the Essex County Ethics Board  for improperly influencing the awarding of a software contract.

The Ethics board fined Provoncha $3,500 and Cross $500. The pair will receive letters of reprimand on their records and Cross has been barred from future bid procurements.

Provoncha also had to immediately resign from the position of Essex County Deputy Manager and his position as Mailroom Supervisor. Both are unpaid positions.

The decision also called for Provoncha to, “conduct himself in a professional manner at all times and ensure that the Department of Motor Vehicles is a stable and non-violent work environment for all employees.”

“County Clerk, Mr. Provoncha, acted unethically in his dealings with the IQS (Info Quick Solutions) and RFP (request for proposal) process,” Ethics Board Chairman Michael Orticelle said. “The Board was able to secure a settlement agreement with both Mr. Provoncha and Deputy Clerk, Janet Cross in which they both admit to improper behavior.”

Though Provoncha and Cross deny intentionally doing anything wrong, the pair admitted to improprieties in order to reach the settlement deal.

Bid process

The reprimand stems from the request for proposal process through the County Clerk’s Office in 2010 for document-scanning software and equipment. Cross was charged with improperly giving information to one bidder, IQS, and not offering the same advantage to other bidders.

Though Cross was not trained or qualified to do so, Orticelle said screening responsibilities were delegated to her.

The case went before the Ethics board in October of 2011 as a result of a Freedom of Information Law request by an outside media source, according to Orticelle.

“Through the FOIL we were given a pile of e-mails to go through from Cross and an associate at IQS,” Orticelle said. The e-mails were exchanged between Cross and a professional associate she had known through work at the county for more than 20 years Orticelle said.

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