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N.J. Treasurer Nominee Fired Before

Originally appeared in the Associated Press on Monday, March 26, 2001.

Acting New Jersey Gov. Donald DiFrancesco's nominee for state treasurer was fired from a high-level job at Citibank after auditors confronted her with evidence she used her expense account to travel with her lover, according to current and former employees of the bank.

Isabel Miranda, who was named acting treasurer of New Jersey on Friday, was director of trusts and estates for Citibank's private banking unit until 1996. Co-workers say she was forced to resign and escorted from her office in Manhattan, The New York Times reported Monday.

Miranda denied the firing Sunday through DiFrancesco's chief spokesman Tom Wilson, saying she left voluntarily because of a dispute with her boss.

''She and her supervisor had a significant disagreement that only grew in its intensity over time and resulted in a decision that they could no longer work together,'' Wilson said.

Citicorp auditors found evidence that Miranda and Donald Browne Jr., an executive in the company's San Francisco office who later transferred to New York, had charged the bank for cross-country trips to visit each other and for trips together, the unnamed co-workers told the Times.

Court documents suggest that DiFrancesco, known as a good friend to Miranda, knew of the firing, if not the reasons for it, within weeks after her dismissal. He notarized Miranda's severance agreement, but did not read it, said DiFrancesco's chief spokesman, Tom Wilson.

He also swore Miranda into the New Jersey bar when she passed her exam, and in 1992 he named her to the commission that redrew New Jersey's Congressional districts.

Philip M. Butterfield, now chief administrative officer of the Bank of Bermuda, said Citibank concluded Miranda and Browne had shown ''lapses in judgment'' and that their departures from Citibank were a ''byproduct'' of that conclusion.

According to court records, Miranda, married for 17 years, began an affair with Browne, who was also married, on or before September 1993. Both received a divorce and they married on June 28, 1995, in Palm Beach, according to their Florida marriage license. The couple live with Miranda's two teen-age daughters in Scotch Plains, N.J., less than a mile from DiFrancesco's home.

Miranda's name was added on Friday to a list of nominations to be considered for confirmation on Monday by the State Senate Judiciary Committee. When he nominated Miranda on March 19, DiFrancesco asked that the Senate confirm her by the end of the month, an unusually short deadline. In January 1997, Miranda was hired as a senior vice president at U.S. Trust Company of New Jersey in Princeton Junction, where she oversaw a smaller group of employees, according to former co-workers.

The Senate also may consider the terms of Miranda's departure from U.S. Trust to join the DiFrancesco administration. Wilson confirmed Sunday that Miranda had taken an unpaid leave of absence from U.S. Trust, which will allow her to reclaim her job after ending her government service. As acting treasurer, Miranda oversees all bond issues by state agencies.

The Charles Schwab Corp., which bought U.S. Trust last year, has recently been expanding its role in the underwriting of municipal bonds. It helps to distribute bonds issued by state and local government agencies and the company has said it hopes to become a lead underwriter of bond issues.

Wilson said that Miranda had recused herself from anything to do with U.S. Trust and that her leave and the recusal had been approved by the director of the state's Executive Commission on ethical Standards.

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