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Former hamilton township, n.J., official admits laundering bribe money allegedly paid to mayor



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2012


 

TRENTON, N.J. – The former director of Community Planning and Compliance for Hamilton Township, N.J., today admitted he laundered a $5,000 alleged bribe from an insurance broker to township Mayor John Bencivengo, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Robert Warney, 46, of Hamilton, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to an Information charging him with one count of money laundering.

According to documents filed in this case and statements in court:

On May 12, 2011, while serving as the director of Community Planning and Compliance for Hamilton Township, Warney accepted on Bencivengo’s behalf a $5,000 check from a cooperating witness (the “CW”), and gave the proceeds of that check to Mayor Bencivengo in cash increments over several weeks. At that time, the CW and the CW’s employer provided health insurance brokerage services to the Hamilton Township School District. Warney said that he, Bencivengo, and the CW agreed to have the check made payable to Warney’s spouse in order to conceal the payment. They also agreed that if anyone asked Warney or the CW about the check, they would say that the CW purchased a bedroom sent from Warney’s spouse. A notation “Cherry Bedroom Set” was put on the check to support that story.

On June 21, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted Bencivengo in connection with $12,400 in bribes he allegedly solicited and accepted in exchange for his official influence in helping the CW maintain the position of health insurance broker with the township’s school district

In pleading guilty today, Warney also admitted that in March 2006 and November 2007, while serving as a member of the Hamilton Township Board of Education, he received corrupt payments from the CW in exchange for his official action and influence in voting in favor of the School Board entering into a three-year contract with the CW and the CW’s employer for them to provide health insurance brokerage services to the school district. Warney admitted that on March 26, 2006, at a meeting of the school board, he voted in favor of entering into a three-year contract with the CW and the CW’s employer and that he received two payments of $5,000 in March 2006 and in November 2007– $10,000 total – from the CW in exchange for his official action. Although not charged in the Information, this conduct will be taken into account by the Court at sentencing.

The charge to which Warney pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater. As part of Warney’s guilty plea, he agreed to forfeit the $10,000 in bribes that he accepted in 2006 and 2007. Sentencing before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson is scheduled for Oct. 9, 2012.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Trenton Resident Agency, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Bartle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division in Trenton.

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Defense counsel: William Hughes Esq., and John Corson Esq., Atlantic City, N.J.

Warney, Robert Information

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