Email Appears To Show Prasad Sought Township Manager’s Help In Fixing Parking Tickets

Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad. (File photo.)

Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad in September appeared to ask for the township manager’s help in fixing several parking tickets issued to parishioners of an East Millstone church.

In a response email, Township Manager Robert Vornlocker blasted Prasad, telling him it was “inappropriate” for Prasad to be involved in the matter.

Prasad (D-At Large), in a Sept. 6 email to Vornlocker, wrote that three members of the Bethel United African Church on Welshs Lane received the parking tickets during a Sept. 3 service at the church, and added that they “would prefer a warning for this instance and request your help in the matter.”

Prasad was reacting to an email he’d received earlier from the church’s pastor, the Rev. Victor Fakondo, in which Fakondo wrote about the tickets and asked for Prasad’s help in getting them bumped down to warnings.

Upon leaving the church after the service, the parishioners “came to find out that two of the vehicles have been ticketed because they were parked within 50 feet of the stop sign on Welshs Lane,” and “the other two vehicles, of which one was the church van, were ticketed for parking on the right hand side of Wortman Street,” Fakondo wrote Prasad.

“We were in the church service the whole time and thought that in such a situation like this under review does merits (sic) a warning ticket” or at the least an officer coming into the church and telling “the worshipers to move their vehicles,” he wrote.

“Any help in this situation will be appreciated,” Fakondo wrote.

In his Sept. 6 request for Vornlocker to help with the matter, Prasad wrote that Fakondo “has requested a warning instead of a ticket for parking around their church.”

“They would have moved their cars and complied with the regulations, if they had been given a warning,” Prasad wrote. “His congregation is hard working people struggling for survival, who would prefer a warning for this instance and request your help in the matter.”

“The tickets issued are attached,” Prasad wrote in the 2:27 a.m. email. “Please let me know how you resolve this request.”

Vornlocker replied about three hours later.

“It is completely inappropriate for you to be involved in this matter or to suggest it can be resolved,” he told Prasad. “If the cars were illegally parked a summons was appropriate.”

“It would be illegal and unethical for me to influence the police officer who wrote the summons and I will not,” Vornlocker wrote.

Prasad then appeared to attempt to walk back his original email in a Sept. 7 follow-up.

In that email to Vornlocker, Prasad wrote, “I forwarded what I got from him as a request, to you. I am not involved in the matter nor am I suggesting any resolution.”

“Just requesting you to let me know, how the matter is to be resolved – next steps, so that I can respond to his follow up with me asking about the status of his request,” Prasad wrote. “I will convey your response to me to him, so that he is aware of the status of his request and the next steps.”

In response to a question, Vornlocker wrote in a Nov. 27 email that “there was no further communication between us on this matter.”

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate received the emails as part of a larger response to an Open Public Records Act request.

Although Prasad wrote in one email that he was going to respond to Fakondo, there was no such response included in the packet of more than 1,000 pages supplied to the FR&A as part of the OPRA request.

Councilman Prasad did not respond to a request for comment.

Update: Municipal Court records show the four vehicle owners issues summonses did not appear for their Sept. 18 court dates.

All four were issued $64 fines; three are payable by Jan. 24, 2019, and one payment was due on Nov. 29, but has not yet been made, according to the records.

This is a a continuing story and will be updated as necessary.

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