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NJ agrees to $350 hourly rate in probe of assault handling

November 12, 2018

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey officials released documents Monday showing the state agreed to pay up to $350 an hour for an investigation into Gov. Phil Murphy administration’s hiring practices stemming from a sexual assault allegation.

The office of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal shared a two-and-half-page agreement Monday between the state and former state Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero, whose firm was handling the probe.

The document is dated Oct. 24, but was countersigned Friday by the attorney general’s office. The state agreed to pay up to $350 an hour for counsel and partners. The rate for associates is $295, and the paralegals’ rate is $90.

The $350 per hour rate was first reported by NJ.com.

The investigation stems from sexual assault allegations by Katie Brennan, the chief of staff at the state’s housing mortgage agency.

Brennan detailed her allegations against Albert Alvarez, the former chief of staff of the state Schools Development Authority, in an October Wall Street Journal article. She says she was sexually assaulted by Alvarez in April 2017 when they were both working to get Murphy elected.

She said she came forward because not enough was being done about the alleged assault. Alvarez has denied the allegations through his attorney.

Prosecutors in Hudson County, where Brennan reported the allegation, did not bring charges, but Grewal’s office has said Middlesex County is re-opening the investigation after it came to light the Hudson County prosecutor realized she knew Brennan and Alvarez.

Murphy has said he wished Alvarez wasn’t hired, but that he believes his office acted appropriately.

The Democrat-led Legislature has also empaneled a committee to investigate hiring practices, with the first hearing where testimony is expected set for next month.

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