In an age when many Democratic politicians are adopting bold progressive positions that put them at odds with the cruelty of bare-knuckled Capitalism, the Mayor of Roselle and his wife, a former Fourth Ward councilman, have decided to try their hand at being greedy landlords but they are not very good at it.
While their avarice is not in question, Mayor Donald Shaw and his wife, Kimberly Sharrock-Shaw, purchased a home on Thomas Street in Elizabeth, using $627,288 in borrowed money with a mortgage and deed that specified that the property would be used as the buyer’s principal residence.
They quickly forced two longtime tenants out of the building despite Covid restrictions in place when they bought the house that legally forbid them from evicting families, but a disabled senior citizen who has occupied an apartment in the building for 24 years is fighting back against the Shaws, who have enlisted Elizabeth Councilman Manny Grova as their attorney in a bid to make one of his own constituents homeless.
Fernando Casamor has lived there for 24 years, his rent rising from $750 to $900 a month before Shaw informed him that his rent would double to $1800, which he believes is illegal under Elizabeth’s rent control ordinance.
Casamor is a retired electrician who fell off a ladder five years ago and has since been diagnosed with a brain tumor in his head and a degenerated lumbar spine, but he says his problems really got bad after the Shaws bought the property where he has lived for the past 24 years.
Casamor says he was subjected to abuses that drove tenants to vacate the two other apartments in the four-family building, where spends $900 on rent from his meager $1200 monthly income.
After failing to drive the disabled tenant into the streets when they initially bought the house or during a previous eviction lawsuit that they lost, the Shaws filed a new complaint in the Landlord-Tenant section of the Union County Superior Court.
While he has had some ups and downs, Casamor lived in the same apartment since 1998, his rent climbing to $900 a month until he became the victim of the Shaw’s first illegal eviction attempt, which was dismissed by the Union County Superior Court in March.
After skipping a court appearance in July, the greedy landlords made several new allegations—which Casamor calls false—and they and their lawyer, Grova, were flabbergasted when the judge allowed the tenant another month to seek out legal assistance.
The Shaw’s home in Elizabeth set off a firestorm of controversy in Roselle, where rumors circulated for months that the mayor was no longer living in town and Shaw did nothing to allay those concerns by refusing to respond to numerous inquiries on the topic.
At one council meeting, Shaw used his time to threaten citizens who set social media on fire with a lively discussion in which many residents expressed outrage over the Mayor’s deceit. He said the IP addresses of his critics were “being investigated” and that commentators would answer in court if they asked questions about his residency, even though such inquiries are perfectly legal.
Shaw profusely criticized residents who discussed his family’s move to Elizabeth and angrily denied that there was any truth to the rumors until the publication of the NJTODAY report documenting his property acquisition.
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. rather than answer questions about his residence, Shaw posted a bizarre piece of rap music on his Facebook page.
On his Facebook page, Shaw posted a bizarre montage of images along with the sound of billionaire rapper Jay Z chanting from Original ‘A million and one questions / Rhyme no more’
“Somebody’s pulling me closer to the ground; I ain’t panicked, I been here before; Seems like only yesterday when I got up on that stage; In front of that crowd;
And showed them who was who, and what was what…” then the sound skips to “Okay, I’m reloaded,” and abruptly stops a moment later.
“He is losing his mind,” said former Mayor Christine Dansereau, in response to Shaw’s April post, which was subsequently taken down. “He takes no responsibility for his actions. He thinks leadership is a place for pretenders. According to him, he’s the victim being pulled down to the ground.”