A case involving a former Casino Reinvestment Development Authority employee who claims he was fired for pointing out costly environmental issues in agency projects is scheduled to go to trial the week of Jan. 7.
George Jones, of Avalon, a former project development officer for the CRDA, filed the lawsuit in state Superior Court in March 2010 — about a year after he lost his job.
In the complaint, Jones claims he pointed out dangerous environmental concerns in at least two authority projects that were ignored. After making the claims, he was twice transferred from his unit and eventually terminated, the lawsuit states. The CRDA and Tom Carver, the agency’s former executive director, are named as defendants.
First hired by the authority in 1992, Jones was charged with overseeing environmental cleanup issues related to agency projects.
According to the lawsuit, Jones claims problems developed in 2001 when the CRDA was considering purchasing the former Atlantic City Linen Supply site on North Carolina Avenue for a future housing project.
Prior to the CRDA’s purchase of the property for $1 million that year, soil samples were taken, but the tests were completed on the periphery of the property rather than at the center — a point which Jones disputed, documents state.
“Mr. Jones’ objections were ignored because the CRDA was concerned about the cost of remediation if further contamination was discovered,” the lawsuit states.
Further contamination was eventually discovered, leading to a more than $3 million cleanup effort as several thousand tons of soil were eventually excavated from the property that still remains vacant. In 2003, the CRDA sued Atlantic City Linen in an unsuccessful attempt to recoup cleanup costs.
CRDA spokeswoman Kim Butler said the agency would not comment on pending litigation.
Jones was earning $58,265 a year when he was fired by CRDA in 2009. At the time, officials said his position was one of two cut in a staff reorganization. Edward C. Einhaus, the director of real estate, also lost his job in the shakeup. He had been with the authority for 18 years and earned $99,828.
Jones’ Moorestown-based attorney, Katherine Hartman, could not be reached. A woman who answered the phone at her office last week said Hartman does not speak to the press and would not allow a reporter to leave a message.
Jones also could not be reached. A phone number listed for his Avalon address was disconnected.
The lawsuit also states that Jones later worked on a potential land swap in which CRDA was considering purchasing a site on which a school was located.
Tests ordered by Jones showed that the site was contaminated, but CRDA officials said remediation would be too costly and the materials found were not harmful, the lawsuit states. The property is not identified.
The case is assigned to Judge James Savio.
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