It’s a ‘Cryan shame’

Assemblyman’s emails raise questions about workplace policies on personal correspondence

Assemblyman Joe Cryan
Assemblyman Joe Cryan

UNION COUNTY — In the leadup to the impending Democratic primary, Union County voters will have a new element to consider when heading to the polls: Assemblyman Joe Cryan’s personal life.

But while the content of the nearly 10-year-old emails, sent to a woman later convicted of stalking him, revealed in a New York Post expose earlier in the week may be shocking to most, the date and time stamps might be of greater concern to county taxpayers.

Especially because it appears Cryan, 51, wrote the sexually explicit emails while working for his full-time job at the Office of the Union County Sheriff, where he is paid $110,000 a year as undersheriff, and as a 20th District Assemblyman, an elected position for which he is paid $49,000 annually, both of which are supported by taxpayer dollars. In fact, at times the emails even mix business with pleasure.

The emails, sent by the Democratic Assemblyman from District 20, and a former state Democratic chairman, puts the Union resident in a compromising position, in more ways than one. Cryan has spent the last several years rebuilding his political reputation in Trenton after a fallout in 2006 from the sexual relationship he denied ever took place.

The release of the tawdry emails also could throw a political wrench into the primary race because Cryan’s assembly seat is up for grabs.

The majority of the more than 150 lascivious emails sent to and received from Karen Golding, a lobbyist who claimed she had an affair with the assemblyman beginning in 2004 when both were unmarried, were written from a private AOL email account. The time and date stamp, however, on a majority of the often short, but sexually explicit emails, took place during the hours Cryan would have been at one of his two government jobs.

And while it is impossible to tell from the emails released what type of device was used, the issue does beg the question of whether the use of government computers was involved. The use of government computers would be a clear violation of Union County’s employee handbook.

According to the county computer use policy, “security and confidentiality of information must not be compromised.”
The policy also stressed that all computers are “for government purposes only,” and “all non-government or non-job related use of the internet, email, data storage or network system is strictly prohibited.”

Prohibited uses also were mentioned in the policy, which lists, for example, “using obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing or offensive language on the systems,” or “downloading, viewing, printing or distributing obscene, pornographic or adult material.”
The County Electronic Mail Management Policy also explained the legal requirements, establishing firm uniform procedures for the management of email.

Although Union County Public Information Director Sebastian D’Elia was reached for comment, as of Monday officials were not talking.

“The county has no comment on the allegations, and will await any further information,” a statement from the county said.
Cryan’s superior at the sheriff’s department, though, was more than willing to speak about his employee Monday, just hours after the 150 emails were released by the New York Post.

“He is one heck of an undersheriff,” Union County Sheriff Ralph Froehlich said in a telephone interview.

“When it comes to budgeting, hiring, personnel, I couldn’t ask for more,” the sheriff added, noting that Cryan also was “loyal.”
Union County Democratic Chairman Charlotte DeFilippo, when reached Tuesday morning, was very willing to comment on the issue.

“I believe people’s private lives, especially two single people, are private,” she said, adding that “Joe Cryan is an able legislator who has done many innovative things for the hard working people of this state.”

But the emails themselves showing up in print was distressing to the powerful Democratic leader.

“I’m appalled at the level this sank to. Its unfortunate that this kind of tabloid sleazy journalism gets print,” DeFilippo said.
Tim Donohue, Cryan’s attorney, issued a statement late Monday about the release of the emails, down playing the importance.

“These emails are eight to ten years old. They would have all been written between two consenting adults who were single at the time,” he said, adding that “nearly all the emails were written on private accounts.”

“The fact of the matter is that Golding admitted under oath to relentlessly stalking an innocent woman and making her fear for her safety,” Donohue said, referring the woman Cryan was dating at the time and to whom he is now married.

Meanwhile, after the emails hit the street, Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller said Monday he planed to further investigate the release of the emails, which were under seal in court offices.

But the release of the emails has at least raised a few eyebrows regarding the original criminal case from 2006.

As of deadline Tuesday, a New York Post follow up story reported New Jersey Attorney General Jeff Chiesa ordered a review of the Cryan-Golding case. The case originally drew attention when Cryan had more than a dozen investigators sent to arrest Golding after she let herself into his unlocked car and left a note behind.

In 2006, prosecutors were cleared of any wrongdoing following an investigation by the attorney general, but according to the New York Post article, affidavits show Cryan denied any relationship ever took place, and Golding ultimately pled guilty.

The emails would seem to suggest otherwise, and that the two were at the very least lovelorn pen pals engaging in a private and very personal exchange.