South Jersey law firm expands through acquisition

A South Jersey law firm has acquired a boutique workers’ compensation practice, it announced Monday.Freeman Huber Sacks Brennan & Fingerman, located in Haddonfield, will now be part of Westmont-based Brown & Connery LLP. The deal adds seven attorneys and an office to Brown & Connery, which will now have 44 lawyers and five offices in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

William T. Freeman, managing partner of the smaller firm, will become a partner with Brown & Connery, leading its workers’ compensation defense practice.

“We are very pleased that the Freeman firm has agreed to join Brown & Connery,” Stephen J. DeFeo, Brown & Connery’s managing partner, said in a prepared statement. “Their workers’ compensation focus and experience makes them a perfect fit for us. This addition will expand the range of services available to clients served by our employment law department. It will also provide their existing clients with a full array of employer-related representation.

“We are excited to have them join us and we look forward to providing additional services to our clients and theirs.”

Christie slams Prieto for ‘playing gubernatorial politics’ with Atlantic City takeover bills

Gov. Chris Christie resumed his attack on Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto on Thursday, accusing him of “playing gubernatorial politics with the public-sector unions” by not posting a bill that would allow for a state takeover of Atlantic City’s finances.In doing so, the governor also threatened to campaign against the proposal to bring casino gaming to northern New Jersey if the legislation is not put up for a vote.

The ongoing battle was the subject of a news conference called by Christie on Thursday, at which he said Prieto (D-Secaucus) is choosing to court the favor and political support of labor organizations by rejecting the measure on the grounds that the takeover bill goes too far and threatens existing collective bargaining contracts.

“Enough theater from the speaker,” Christie said. “He’s made his point to his public union bosses.”

Christie added that Prieto is also appealing to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who is rumored to be preparing for a 2017 gubernatorial run against Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), another potential candidate and supporter of the takeover measure.

“It’s clear that the mayor and the speaker are working in concert to try and hurt the Senate president and advantage themselves,” Christie said.

Prieto and Fulop both fired back after the conference. The Assembly speaker said Christie “needs to accept responsibility and stop blaming others.”

“The fact remains that Gov. Christie has sufficient authority to save Atlantic City from financial catastrophe, but instead of action, he makes excuses, spouts conspiracy theories about the next gubernatorial election and makes up stories about alleged promises,” Prieto said. “He should focus on doing his job.”

In addition to his contract concerns, Prieto has alleged that the state already has the necessary power to intervene to some degree in Atlantic City’s affairs without the additional legislation and that another measure, which would allow casinos to make payments in lieu of taxes to help pay down the city’s debt, is a more crucially needed bill at this time.

To that point, Christie called Prieto’s assertion a “fairytale” that is “just wrong.”

“If I did, why would I be fighting about this?” Christie said about having the authority to act.

Christie added that having the city default would jeopardize the credit ratings of municipalities all across the state and inaction is “putting at risk the livelihood of people in Atlantic City.”

Adding that previously, Prieto “absolutely looked me in the eye” and pledged to at least post the bill for a vote, Christie urged the speaker to fulfill that promise in time for next Thursday’s voting session. The measure has the votes to pass, Christie alleged.

The governor also made note of the fact that several of the Assembly members who are backing Prieto on his position are also in favor of bringing casino gaming to northern New Jersey through a voter referendum this fall.

Christie said that if the legislation is not put up for a vote and brought to his desk in its current form, he will choose to actively work to defeat the referendum, despite his support for it.

With a bankrupt Atlantic City, such a referendum would have “no chance of winning,” Christie said.

“If, in fact, the bills don’t come to my desk, I will campaign against it,” Christie said of the referendum.

To that end, Prieto said the governor can “campaign as he chooses.”

“It wouldn’t be his first flip-flop, and he would just be risking hurting Atlantic City by denying it funding it sorely needs from North Jersey gaming to transition into a resort destination,” said Prieto. “I am still willing to compromise, and welcome the governor’s call. I will see what the governor has in mind, but it must be a real compromise that protects core principles.”

Fulop responded to Christie’s comments in a statement following the news conference, claiming that Christie is “not subscribing to the politics of maturity with the name calling and accusations.”

“I’m not going to engage in a tit-for-tat name calling dialogue with the governor, as that doesn’t serve anyone,’ Fulop said. “There is zero substance to his accusations and this amounts to nothing more than a temper tantrum. If the governor wants to stop North Jersey gaming as a result of this tantrum as he threatens, that is his choice — it doesn’t bother us either way. Jersey City will be just fine.”