Indictment: Ex-mayor of Lawrence Twp. stole $75K from Asbury Park for meals, limos, strip clubs
The ex-mayor of Lawrence Township has been indicted on 42 counts, alleging he stole more than $75,000 from the Asbury Park Housing Authority while he was its executive director.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office says that during Mark Holmes' employment with the housing authority, he diverted state grant funds, collected reimbursements for unauthorized meals, and double-dipped on per diem payments when traveling.
A Monmouth County grand jury returned the 42-count indictment Monday, acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced.
Holmes, 54, of Lawrence Township is charged with 22 counts of second-degree official misconduct, 16 counts of third-degree official misconduct, one count of second-degree pattern of official misconduct, two counts of third-degree fraudulent use of a credit card, and one count of second-degree theft by deception.
Holmes had been director of the housing authority from December 2008 until June of 2011, and before that had been its deputy director.
Just before taking the lead role, he applied for and received a $99,897 grant award from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the prosecutor's office said. The Literacy Skills Training Grant was intended to provide training in computers and other marketable skills for Asbury Park public housing residents, it said.
Between November 2008 and August 2009, with Holmes serving as executive director, the housing authority received over $75,000 from the State as part of the training grant, the prosecutor's office said. Holmes transferred more than $58,000 of the funds to the APHA Community Development Corporation, an organization he created, and, rather than use the money for training purposes, Holmes used the money to fund a $50,000 salary increase for himself without APHA Board approval, the prosecutor's office said.
Additionally, Holmes opened up credit cards in the name of the “APHA” and “APHA Community Development Corporation” and used the cards for personal expenses, the prosecutor's office said. He changed the mailing addresses for the bills to go directly to his personal residence and racked up over $30,000 in debt, it said.
During his time as executive director, Holmes went on more than 30 business trips across the country, the prosecutor's office said. Prior to traveling, Holmes received up front per diem payments from the APHA, totaling over $22,000 during his tenure, which were intended to cover meal expenses. Upon his return, even though he had already received these monies, Holmes sought and received duplicate reimbursements from the APHA for meals for which he had already received the up-front per diem payments, according to the prosecutor's office.
Holmes also used APHA funds for personal expenditures while on these trips, including spa treatments, hotel in-room movies, and gentlemen’s clubs, the prosecutor's office said. On at least three occasions, he used APHA funds to pay for stretch limousine service to transport him and his family to and from the airport, it said.
Holmes also used over $13,000 of APHA funds for unauthorized meal expenses in the Asbury Park and Lawrenceville areas, the prosecutor's office says.
Holmes is currently free after posting $70,000 bail, the prosecutor's office said.
If convicted of any of the second-degree official misconduct charges, Holmes faces up to 10 years in a New Jersey state prison, and up to 5 years if convicted of any of the third-degree official misconduct charges. The misconduct charges are also subject to a mandatory period of parole ineligibility, forfeiture of any state pension benefits and a lifetime ban on public employment in New Jersey.
If convicted of the charge of pattern of official misconduct, Holmes faces up to 10 years in a state prison.
The fraudulent use of a credit card charge carries a 3-to-year prison sentence. Theft by deception carries a 5-to-10-year sentence.