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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.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mayor's schedule shows little change while under fed's charges

The federal corruption case that starts today might have the largest effect on the Hamilton mayor’s work since the scandal began in April.
According to copies of the Mayor John Bencivengo’s and Business Administrator John Ricci’s calendar since the beginning of March obtained through an Open Public Records Act request, there has been little change in the way the township conducts its business.
“I most certainly kept myself busy doing the work I told the township I would do,” Bencivengo said. “We’re always working on new ideas and ways to become more efficient.”
Bencivengo said he will be using vacation time over the course of the trial, which could last two weeks. He said he will designate Ricci as the acting mayor.
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.
Bencivengo has averaged 12 appointments a week, and had roughly five public appearances on his schedule for each week. He also averaged three scheduled meetings that could be identified as township administrative business each week.

Ricci and Bencivengo did not have significant fluctuation in their schedules after Bencivengo was charged or when he was indicted.
It should be noted that for both Bencivengo and Ricci, several entries in each week were withheld under OPRA exceptions, and not all entries had descriptions tied to them. Any entry with information withheld or without a description from the OPRA request was not categorized.
While the calendars show some cancellations, they do not note whether Ricci or Bencivengo attended each event or meeting.
“I don’t know what else I can say; business still went on here,” Ricci said. “ has been involved, the rest of us have been involved as we have been in the past.”
You can see the breakdown of the schedules here.


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