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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.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holdover Hamilton Mayor calls for state investigation into town’s books

HAMILTON TWP. — The town may soon open its books to state investigators in the wake of the scandal that brought down convicted Mayor John Bencivengo.
Mayor Kevin Meara, who stepped in for up to 30 days after Bencivengo’s resignation, announced yesterday he had asked the town’s auditing firm to come up with a proposal for an extensive audit of the town’s finances that could stretch back years. He also said he has reached out to the state to see if the comptroller’s office might want to conduct its own investigation.
“We have to do everything that we can so that at some point...At some point residents begin to feel this is their government again this is their house,” Meara said.
Meara said he had spoken to many residents who had expressed frustration with municipal politics and equated the former mayor’s scandal with the township as a whole. He said the investigation would help the town get past the scandal much quicker.
Bob Morrison, the accountant whose firm has conducted the township’s audits, said the more in-depth forensic audit would examine financial transactions in ways that the normal yearly audit would not catch. He said auditors, whether from his firm or the state, would analyze phone and email records as well as conduct interviews, in addition to looking at financial records.
“We assume nothing is legitimate and basically take the transactions apart and put them back together to make sure everything is appropriate,” Morrison said.
Meara, who said he could not put a timeframe on how long the process would take. Partially because the process is in its first stages; township officials have not decided the scope of the audit and do not know whether state officials will intervene. he said any expense for the audit would also need approval from council.
“We’re all aware there is a cloud over Hamilton Township and we all know it is not going away immediately,” he said.
Acting Business Administrator John Barrett said he had conversations with the state Comptroller’s office about looking at the township’s finances.
“This will put the sunshine back in Hamilton Township,” Barrett said.
You can read the full story here.


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