RARITAN BOROUGH — The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office is trying to get to the root of why the borough paid to have trees removed from the property of a church that the mayor attends.

The trees at St. Ann's church were removed after the Rev. John Rozembajgier emailed Mayor Charles McMullin in November to say that the roots were damaging the church steps, according to MyCentralJersey.com. The mayor is on the church's finance board, the news site reported.

While the request was initially denied, the project was eventually done with a price tag to taxpayers of more than $2,000, according to the report.

Borough Business Administrator Dan Jaxel was subpoenaed in December to testify before a Somerset County grand jury, according to a court document obtained by MyCentralJersey.com.

No official has been charged with a crime.

In response to a request for comment, the municipal attorney said the borough only responded to a dangerous condition caused by the trees.

A former mayor of the borough was criminally charged more than a decade ago with stealing public funds. Former Mayor Philip Possessky in 2005 pleaded guilty to using borough funds to buy his landscaping company a lawnmower and pay $1,200 in cellphone bills. Possessky resigned and agreed never to seek another public position.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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