Tax cheater or ballot fraudster? Tough questions for Mayor Donald Shaw

Robert Frost said “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

Then again, Robert Frost never wrote any election laws or statutes imposing income taxes.

When Roselle Mayor Donald A. Shaw and his wife Kimberly M Sharrock-Shaw purchased a home in Elizabeth, the deed specified that the property would be owned and used as the buyer’s principal residence.

For the purpose of calculating income taxes on the $312,500 gain from the sale of their previous home at 242 West Fourth Avenue in Roselle, not using the Elizabeth property as the taxpayer’s principal residence could cost the Shaw’s a tax liability of $68,750 plus penalties and interest, which may be substantial.

Donald Shaw purchased this home at 728-732 Thomas Street in Elizabeth, but he is still collecting a paycheck for being mayor in Roselle.

The mayor’s wife is a former Fourth Ward councilwoman who is employed as an English teacher at Rahway High School, where she earned $86,652 last year.

In addition to his municipal salary, Mayor Shaw is paid $80,580 for a low show job at the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation, which was given to him by political bosses as an incentive to operate in the interests of power brokers and party leaders.

On the other hand, if the Mayor is living out of town while collecting a paycheck as the borough’s chief executive, he might be guilty of defrauding Roselle residents and possibly engaging in ballot fraud, pursuant to laws that require voters to register at their actual domicile.

After he soundly defeated Councilwoman Denise Wilkerson in a special election, Shaw took his oath of office on Sunday, November 22, 2020 but he sold his home in Roselle about a week later.

Despite these revelations, Wilkerson has embraced Shaw’s support in her campaign for re-election. Wilkerson is being challenged by Brandis Puryear, an Irvington Police detective sergeant whose 17 years of law enforcement experience are needed in the borough where absentee elected officials have failed to address the recent shooting of a teenage boy and other violent crime.

According to property records filed with Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, Donald A Shaw and Kimberly Shaw sold their former home at 242 West Fourth Avenue in Roselle, to Louis Saguay on or about November 30, 2020.

The Mayor, the former Fourth Ward Councilwoman and their daughter, Niyala A Shaw, are listed on the deed for the property at Thomas Street in Elizabeth.

Residency requirements are specified in the Municipal Code §5-10, which states:

“All officers and employees of the Borough in the employ of or hereafter to be employed by the Borough are hereby required as a condition of their continued employment to have their place of abode in the Borough and to be bona fide residents therein, except as otherwise provided by ordinance or state statute. A ‘bona fide resident,’ for the purpose of this section, is a person having a permanent domicile within the Borough and one which has not again taken up or claimed a previous residence acquired outside of the Borough limits.”

The Municipal Code also specifies that “the Mayor shall see to it that the laws of the state and the ordinances of the Borough are faithfully executed.”

Shaw and his wife borrowed $627,288 from Family First Funding, a state licensed mortgage bank headquartered in Toms River, New Jersey, and paid $649,000 for their home in Elizabeth.

Among the things that Shaw promised when he borrowed that money was that he would use the premises at 728-732 Thomas Street in Elizabeth as his principal residence, which means he would live there within 60 days of closing on the home.

If he is not living in the Thomas Street residence, then he would appear to be in violation of the mortgage agreement and guilty of a scheme to defraud a financial institution of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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