Report: Former Gov. Donald DiFrancesco hired friend for 'low-show' job

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A former New Jersey governor who is now chairman of the board at a major hospital recommended that the hospital hire a friend who was given a "no-show or low-show" job, according to a published report.

NJ.com reports former Republican Gov. Donald DiFrancesco made Jill Cooperman his assistant weeks after she was hired by University Hospital in Newark in 2014. Her salary soon rose and her title changed, spurring a whistleblower complaint.

The hospital board had an outside law firm investigate the accusation. The firm found the complaint credible, saying the hospital had a high-level administrator without a clear job title or responsibilities.

DiFrancesco said in a statement that while working as a volunteer chairman for the hospital he spent two to three days a week helping to build the organization.

“As such, I needed staff support.  I did recommend Ms. Cooperman submit her application for an opening in the legal department and she was hired following the process any state employee would and she reported to that department,” he said.

The statement continued, “Ms. Cooperman and other staff members were vital in helping support the board as the organization was built and then moved to help create the UH foundation to raise funds to support our mission.  With 20/20 hindsight, I do agree a more formal chain of command would have been helpful.”

Cooperman declined to comment on the report.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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