Former Hamilton Township, N.J., Official Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison For Laundering Bribe Money Paid To Mayor
TRENTON, N.J. – The former director of Community Planning and Compliance for Hamilton Township, N.J., who admitted laundering a $5,000 bribe from an insurance broker to township Mayor John Bencivengo, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Robert Warney, 47, of Hamilton, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to an Information charging him with one count of money laundering. U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson imposed sentenced today in Trenton federal court.
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, Marliese Ljuba (identified in the Information to which Warney pleaded guilty as the Cooperating Witness), the health insurance broker for the Hamilton Township School District. Warney gave the proceeds of the check to Bencivengo in cash increments over several weeks. He, Bencivengo, and Ljuba 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 Ljuba about the check, they would say that Ljuba purchased a bedroom set from Warney’s spouse. A notation “Cherry Bedroom Set” was put on the check to support that story.
On Nov. 20, 2012, following a five-day trial before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson, Bencivengo was found guilty of obstruction of commerce by extortion under color of official right, attempted obstruction of commerce by extortion under color of official right, two counts of violating the federal Travel Act, for causing the interstate travel and using facilities in interstate commerce in connection with the bribes that he accepted, and one count of money laundering in connection with $12,400 in bribes he allegedly solicited and accepted in exchange for his official influence in helping Ljuba maintain the position of health insurance broker with the township’s school district. On March 13, 2013, he was sentenced to 38 months in prison.
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 Ljuba in exchange for his official action and influence in voting in favor of the School Board entering into a three-year contract with the Ljuba and her 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 Ljuba and that he received two payments of $5,000 in March 2006 and in November 2007– $10,000 total – from her in exchange for his official action.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Thompson sentenced Warney to two years of supervised release and fined him $2,000.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Trenton Resident Agency, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez, for the investigation leading to today’s sentence.
The government is represented by Harvey Bartle, Attorney in Charge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Trenton Office.
Defense counsel: William L. Hughes Esq., Atlantic City, N.J.