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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 mmacagnone@trentonian.com or follow me @awisefool.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Acting mayor fires Hamilton Business Administrator

Among his first few days in office, the acting mayor has fired the business administrator in Hamilton.

John Ricci, who has been business administrator since 2008, said he received a letter from Meara this morning notifying him his services were no longer needed.

“Obviously I’m not too pleased with it,” he said. “I think I have been doing a good job and from I have been hearing from the council and the public, they agree.”

He said he will appeal the decision to council, which meets the first week of December.

“We’ll see what the council has to say,” he said.

Meara, who took over last week after Mayor John Bencivengo stepped down following his conviction on federal corruption charges, could not be reached for comment immediately.

Ricci said he did not know whether any other department heads or township administrators had been fired. He said he also did not know who was doing the work of the business administrator today.

Meara will be acting mayor for up to 30 days from Bencivengo's resignation last week. In 15 days, the municipal Republican committee will provide three nominees to town council. The council would then select one of those three to serve as mayor until next November. Then there would be a special election to fill the rest of Bencivengo’s term, which lasts until 2015.

Ricci, when he was acting mayor during Bencivengo’s trial, fired Cathy Tramontana, who was described as the “best friend” of the government’s key witness, Marliese Ljuba.

Until two weeks ago, Cathy Tramontana served as the director of Health and Recreation in Hamilton Township. Her husband, Joe Tramontana, was placed on administrative leave from his job as the Hamilton School Board Business Administrator two weeks ago.

Ljuba testified that while she was the insurance broker for Hamilton Township School District, she gave the Tramontanas gifts, trips and meals.

In addition, Ljuba testified she told the Tramontanas about her recording Bencivengo for the FBI investigation in June 2011, shortly after she began cooperating in the case.

She did not tell investigators she had told the Tramontanas until June 2012, when Joe Tramontana was approached by the FBI and Ljuba had received a nonprosecution agreement.

Editor's note: Marliese Ljuba testified at length in the trial of former Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo that she paid certain people to act as “straw donors” to political campaigns.  The Trentonian and Trenton Times incorrectly reported at various times that Joe and/or Cathy Tramontana were used by Ljuba as “straw donors.”  However, transcripts of Ljuba’s testimony show that Ljuba never accused Joe or Cathy Tramontana of being used as “straw donors.”   In addition, it has been reported that Cathy Tramontana received “money” from Ljuba.  However, Ljuba only testified that she paid for meals and trips with the Tramontanas, a contention which the Tramontanas dispute.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've known John Ricci for over 30 years, he's a good man and an outstanding Business Administrator. This move smells like something personal. Can't wait to see how council handles this, they haven't had the backbone to stand up and do anything yet concerning this entire matter.

November 26, 2012 at 1:54 PM 

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