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Covering Hamilton and Robbinsville townships in-depth for The Trentonian. I can be reached at (609) 989-7800 ext. 207 or (609) 468-6962. Email me at or follow me @awisefool.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bencivengo trial postponed to Nov. 9

    HAMILTON — Add the trial of Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo to the list of proceedings thrown into the wind in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s trip through New Jersey.

    Jerome Ballaratto, Bencivengo’s attorney, said that from conversations with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, it was not likely jury selection would begin as scheduled Monday.
    “It’s going to go soon, I just don’t know when,” he said.
    The federal courts in Newark and Trenton will be closed through Friday, making rescheduling of other cases a factor. Several calls to the US Attorney’s Office in New Jersey were not returned Wednesday.
    Ballaratto said he and the attorney’s office were concerned about the jurors, many of whom come from Ocean and Monmouth counties, two of the areas hardest-hit by Hurricane Sandy.
    “We’re wondering whether it is even fair to ask them to do it under this situation,” he said.
    Bencivengo has been indicted on federal corruption charges, after allegedly taking $12,400 in bribes from a cooperating witness, whom sources have identified as Marliese Ljuba, in exchange for influencing a member of the school board on behalf of her employer, Vineland-based insurance broker Allen Associates.

    Bencivengo has maintained his innocence and stated in a financial disclosure filed after his arrest that the money was a loan and not a bribe.
    Rob Warney, a former member of the board and Director of Community Planning and Development in Hamilton, plead guilty to charges that he acted as the middleman for the bribes to Bencivengo. In addition, he admitted in his plea that he had previously taken $10,000 in bribes in 2006-2007 to vote for Allen Associates original three-year contract.


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