COUNTY NEWS – Although Acting Prosecutor Grace Park came aboard more than two months ago, little information has been forthcoming from this branch of government, nor has Park consented to interviews with the press. However, there have been changes.
In May when Republican Gov. Chris Christie quietly replaced former prosecutor Ted Romankow, 70, who spent 11 years in the position, it was expected that Park would make some changes. Over the last few months, though, nothing leaked and Park has continued to turn down interviews. In fact, until LocalSource spoke with Romankow last week, no one knew that Park had replaced Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas Jr. and moved him into another division of the prosecutor’s office.
Sources within the prosecutor’s office confirmed late last week that Park moved Cernadas Jr. to the homicide division, replacing him with Tim Isenhour. Romankow, though, said, a move like this was not unusual and spoke very highly of Isenhour’s qualifications for the position.
“Tim actually was considered for the Monmouth County prosecutor’s position,” the former prosecutor said, pointing out that Isenhour also headed a major wire tapping in Union County.
“He is extremely qualified,” Romankow added, noting that on the other hand, Cernandas is one of “the best trial attorney’s in the state.”
Romankow, who did not let any grass grow under his feet, said he is not only going back into private practice, but will be defending those who commit crimes. One of the things he is especially concerned with is providing legal help to the mentally ill who have been charged with crimes.
“I have a personal mission to ensure they are handled correctly and legally,” Romankow explained, adding that “it’s important they have an advocate.”
However, he said he is barred from representing any criminal cases for six months after leaving office, or from working on any case that involved county prosecutors while he was in office.
Romankow will be working for the firm Javerbaum Wurgaft, who he said in the last year has grown from 20 attorneys to 38.
“People assume I retired but I’m not ready for that yet,” he added, pointing out that in addition to defending those accused of crimes, he is starting a business that he believes is needed in Union County.
“Over the years I felt the schools were poorly constructed for security and I am putting together a team of seven professionals who can access the schools and see what needs to be done to ensure they are safer,” Romankow said, mentioning that the professionals involved are nationally accredited and “will be a part of my team.”
Meanwhile, Romankow’s former right hand man, John Holl, who handled public information for the prosecutor’s office, made a decision to leave as of Aug. 30. Holl, who has a book deal involving the pairing of food with beer, and also is a frequent consultant for NBC television, will be going on a national book signing and appearance tour for three months.
Taking Holl’s place will be Mark Stivey, a former reporter with the Courier News and Home News daily newspapers. Tuesday Stivey was on the job and said he was ready to hit the ground running.