Lieu­tenant pro­moted to deputy war­den

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - By Isaac Avilucea iav­ilucea@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @IsaacAvilucea on Twit­ter

TRENTON >> There’s a new war­den in town.

Well, deputy war­den.

Lt. Asa Paris, a long­time corrections of­fi­cer who served as union pres­i­dent, was pro­moted this week to re­place for­mer Mercer County Deputy War­den Phyl­lis Oliver, who re­tired amid a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her and War­den Charles El­lis.

The Tren­to­nian first re­ported Oliver’s re­tire­ment last week. Paris, who in­sid­ers said was the fron­trun­ner from the be­gin­ning, of­fi­cially took over Mon­day.

The county’s pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice wrapped up the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into El­lis and Oliver with­out bring­ing charges against them. They were be­ing looked at for po­ten­tial sex­ual mis­con­duct and over­time abuse.

The of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment of Paris’ promotion comes roughly a week af­ter Ex­ec­u­tive Brian Hughes told The Tren­to­nian that a job search was be­ing con­ducted to find Oliver’s re­place­ment and no one had been pro­moted in­ter­nally to fill the position on an in­terim or per­ma­nent ba­sis. But sources in­side the jail con­tacted The Tren­to­nian af­ter it pub­lished the story about Oliver’s sud­den de­par­ture, call­ing out Hughes for an al­leged whop­per. The sources in­di­cated Paris was be­ing groomed from the getgo to take over for Oliver and any talk of a job search was just that.

“Call and ask for the deputy war­den. See who an­swers or ask for DW Paris,” the source said last week. “Hughes lies.”

A county spokes­woman said Thurs­day the county in­ter­viewed “sev­eral” can­di­dates for the open­ing and re­ceived re­sumes from “out­side ap­pli­cants.”

Paris, a mem­ber of the New Jersey Army Na­tional Guard and Iraqi War vet­eran, was judged as the “stand­out can­di­date,” spokes­woman Julie Will­mot said. He has been with county corrections since 1991, has gone on to earn sev­eral de­grees and is a doc­toral can­di­date, of­fi­cials said.

The county didn’t say where he’s pur­su­ing the doc­tor­ate but in an on­line pro­file The Tren­to­nian iden­ti­fied him as a stu­dent at Rut­gers Univer­sity.

He also reps him­self as an alum­nus of Mercer County Com­mu­nity Col­lege, Thomas Edi­son State Univer­sity and Ford­ham Univer­sity.

Paris will make $136,397 a year in his new gig, a bump from the $123,350 he was paid in his old role, pen­sion records show. He steps into a heav­ily scru­ti­nized role as the No. 2 on the totem pole be­hind El­lis with the jail fac­ing a steady stream of law­suits and con­tro­versy, in­clud­ing Hughes’ dead plan to re­lo­cate the jail to Hud­son County.

A ma­jor­ity of the county free­hold­ers were op­posed to ship­ping out Mercer in­mates to Hud­son as a way to cut costs. The con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal would have re­sulted in more than 200 lay­offs of corrections of­fi­cers and was met with re­sis­tance from the of­fi­cers’ union.

The union has blasted jail lead­er­ship for cor­rup­tion and mis­man­age­ment, tak­ing the ex­tra­or­di­nary step this year of fil­ing an of­fi­cial com­plaint with the county blast­ing El­lis and Oliver. Her ex­or­bi­tant over­time gains reg­u­larly pushed her salary over $200,000, the union said, cit­ing records it ob­tained through an Open Pub­lic Records Act re­quest.

Hughes has done his best to quash talk of dis­con­tent at the jail, stat­ing un­equiv­o­cally last week he gave no thought to re­plac­ing War­den El­lis who he called one of the county’s “finest” em­ploy­ees fol­low­ing ex­plo­sive law­suits that emerged charg­ing him and Oliver with propo­si­tion­ing a corrections nurse for a pa­jama sex party three­some and touch­ing the nurse in­side his of­fice one day. Pros­e­cu­tors found no ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal sex­ual con­tact, but an­other wo­man brought for­ward an­other law­suit with sim­i­lar al­le­ga­tions of El­lis fan­cy­ing him­self a ladies man who loved “large breasts” and rou­tinely made sex­u­ally sug­ges­tive cracks and passes to­ward fe­male work­ers.

In other news, last month the county added re­tired Trenton cop Gary Britton to the pay­roll as head of in­ter­nal af­fairs with at a yearly salary of $105,348. The dou­ble-dip­ping Britton will make bank now that he’s joined the county, a pre­ferred land­ing spot for lo­cal law enforcement. Britton re­tired from the police force in 2015 and col­lects more than $5,100 a month in pen­sion pay­ments, records show.

FACE­BOOK PHOTO

Asa Paris, right, has been named deputy war­den of Mercer County Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter.

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