Hamilton mayor charged with crime for sharing opponent’s arrest record
HAMILTON (Mercer) — Mayor Kelly Yaede and her campaign manager are facing criminal charges after her primary opponent's criminal record, which had been expunged. was posted online.
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office have filed misdemeanor charges of disclosure of an expungement order, officials confirmed on Tuesday.
Yaede defeated David Henderson by a 33-point margin in the June 4 Republican primary. She will take on Democratic Council President Jeffrey Martin in the general election in November.
Henderson was arrested in 2001 on a domestic violence charge that was later dismissed and expunged.
“I am happy to see something being done about her corruption and illegal actions,” Henderson said Wednesday.
Yaede's attorney, noted defense lawyer Robin Lord, told NJ.com that the prosecutor’s office is "playing politics" and said her client is an "honest public servant" who broke no law.
Lord said she was planning to file a motion to dismiss the charges on Wednesday, according to NJ.com.
The complaint says that in late May and early June, Yaede and campaign manager Dan Scharfenberger posted the criminal record on her mayoral Facebook page, local media and an online news site called hamiltonnjnews.blogspot.com, whose content they controlled.
The criminal record was obtained via an anonymous OPRA request seeking three police reports, prosecutors said. The request was left on the counter of the Hamilton municipal clerk's office on Feb. 7, according to the complaint. The prosecutor's investigation determined the OPRA request was made by Marty Flynn, Yaede's chief of staff.
It is not clear from the complaint who handled the OPRA request or how it was delivered. Flynn has not been charged with a crime.
The prosecutor said that nobody who works for the Hamilton Police Division was charged with any crime in handling the OPRA request or releasing the records, however, a civilian employee of the division is facing internal investigation over "additional infractions [...] due to the running of the criminal statute of limitations." The prosecutor did not provide more details.
Henderson's expungement request was not handled properly because Deputy Chief George Zimmer, the individual responsible for handling the expungement in 2008, died suddenly, according to the complaint. As a result, the expungement request was received by the police division but never delivered to the records clerk.
Henderson on Wednesday said that isn't much of an excuse.
“It’s tragic the events that took place but it’s negligent on the part of Hamilton Township and Hamilton Township Police not to follow through on their obligations set forth by law," he said. "The guy in charge died so they want to relieve themselves of responsibility. The purpose of being able to get an expungement is if there’s charges made and it’s decided they weren’t’ warranted or they were false, you are able to remove them. That’s exactly what the case was.”
Martin, the Democratic mayoral candidate, called the allegations "unacceptable and shocking abuses of power" and accused the mayor of using "bullying tactics" against anyone who speaks against her administration.
"It’s time for Mayor Yaede to take her own advice that she gave to Mayor Bencivengo when he was criminally charged and, at the very least, take a leave of absence pending the result of the criminal charges filed against her," Martin said.
The prosecutor's office suggested that anyone who may have served an expungement order with the Hamilton Police Division between July 1 and July 8, 2008, should contact Hamilton police at 609- 581-4120 to verify the order was received and appropriate action was taken.
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