FBI Completes Search Of Trenton Mayor Tony Mack’s City Hall Office But May Return
FBI agents havecompleted their search of Trenton City Hall and Mayor Tony Mack’s office but may be back again tomorrow.
Agents left with several boxes, folders and other
material. Trenton Business Administrator Sam Hutchinson says the FBI’s investigation at City Hall could take a couple of days or longer.
The Times of Trenton reports that Hutchinson addressed city employees to offer encouragement.
The FBI said they had a search warrant for several offices but declined to be more specific. During the search about a dozen FBI vehicles were parked outside City Hall, and some city employees were milling around outside but none could say which offices had been targeted.
The search is directly related to the search on Mack’s home according to CBS Philadelphia.
Anywhere from 20-50 agents arrived at 10AM and headed for the business administrator’s office and the recreation office
20 agents arrived around 10AM on Thursday morning and were headed for the 3rd floor where the business administrator’s office according to the Star Ledger. Employees were told they could not use their computers during the search and were sitting on charir outside their offices.
They went through file cabinets in the offices of the purchasing and administration departments which are on the first floor.
Park rangers told reporters that City Hall was closed for business except for the health department and the public was not allowed to enter. Rangers provide security detail for City Hall.
The Trentonian reports via Twitter that Anthony Roberts, an aide Mack, was seen running out side door as the FBI converged on City Hall.
Governor Chris Christie at a press conference about drug court refused to speculate about what agents are looking for in their search. “We’d love when people would speculate about what we’re doing; 75 percent of the time they were wrong, and the 25 percent of the time they were right it was by accident,” said Christie. “Whatever is happening down the street we’ll all find out when it’s appropriate for the public to find out and not until then.”
When asked if Mack should resign, Christie said “Once a public official is indicted by a grand jury, then they should resign. Because there is a cloud over their office – while they have a presumption of innocence – they don’t have an entitlement to a public office.”
Listen to the Governor’s comments
FOLLOW UP TO WEDNESDAY’S SEARCH
Agents early on Wednesday morning searched Mack’s Berkeley Avenue home as well as homes on property belonging to Ralphiel Mack, the mayor’s brother, and to Joseph Giorgianni, a convicted sex offender who donated to Tony Mack’s run for mayor.
Mack is also the football coach at a Trenton high school.
Federal authorities will not say what they are investigating.
Several agents were seen early Wednesday morning inside Tony Mack’s Berkeley Avenue home and taking equipment inside according to the Times of Trenton. Trenton Police were called to assist with the search.
Shortly after 6AM two agents emerged from the home with two boxes of unknown content. They gave an unidentified man and woman permission to enter Mack’s home.
In a statement, Mack said, “I have not violated my duties or the public trust and have no further comment on this matter.”
The Trentonian reports that Mack and his children were home during the search.
AN ADMINISTRATION UNDER FIRE
Mack has drawn criticism since he was elected in 2010. The Democrat’s first term in office has been punctuated by accusations of reckless spending and nepotism.
Under an agreement reached last year, Mack can only hire department heads from a pool of applicants the state offers or he risks losing $6 million in state aid. A citizens group last year failed to get enough signatures to force a recall election.
The mayor also has faced questions about how he financed his campaign for mayor and about his own troubled personal finances.
His home and other Mack properties have repeatedly been in foreclosure, and he has been late in paying his taxes.
In just Mack’s first year in office he ran through a string of business administrators. The first resigned after a month, saying the mayor didn’t believe in “good government.” Another resigned just ahead of pleading guilty
to embezzlement on another job.
His housing director quit after it was learned he had a theft conviction. His chief of staff was arrested trying to buy heroin. His half brother, Stanley “Muscles” David, pleaded guilty earlier this year to official misconduct for directing Trenton Water Works crews to perform private side jobs using city equipment and billing the city for the hours.
A former longtime city employee sued the mayor late last year.
The parks department employee said she was let go after refusing to dole out jobs for the mayor’s friends, refusing to give federal grant money to people who didn’t apply and for inquiring about city funds she said were missing.
The ex-employee also said she was replaced by a Mack supporter who never showed up for his $40,000-a-year job.
Attorney George Dougherty, who represents that employee and two others in wrongful termination lawsuits against the city, expressed relief that authorities have taken action against Mack. “My reaction today was finally we can all stop saying when will government react to what’s been very obvious to us,” Dougherty
said. “What I don’t know is which of the spectrum of things that have been reported finally sparked the action.”
Dougherty, who worked as a Trenton city attorney from 1971 to 1990, said Mack has left the government in disarray. “Maybe what happened this morning will bring an end to that,”
he said. “Let’s hope.”
Trenton Councilman George Muschal, a retired police officer who had initially supported Mack but then became a harsh critic, said he didn’t know the focus of the investigation but said “when the feds come after you, they come after you for a good reason.”
Muschal said city workers regularly come to him with a wide range of complaints but that Mack is many times impossible to reach. “He’s the commander-in- chief, he’s leading the ship and I don’t know where it’s going. The man does what he wants,” he said.
A year ago, Muschal told The Associated Press that City Hall had become corrupted by the Mack administration. “It won’t stop until someone takes him out in handcuffs or he’s removed by recall,” Muschal said at the time.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.