By Matthew Arco | November 14th, 2012 - 4:51pm
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TRENTON – Mounting financial woes and fears of being embarrassed during an election year are the reasons Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo first asked a close friend to inquire with a former insurance broker about taking an alleged bribe, a federal witness told jurors Wednesday.

Rob Warney, Hamilton’s former director of community planning and compliance, told jurors his former friend asked him to contact prosecutors’ star witness, Maria Ljuba, about securing money. Bencivengo told Warney he was underwater with bills, which included outstanding taxes, bills for the mayor’s girlfriend and debt accrued through Bencivengo’s divorce.

“He had mentioned that he was in severe financial troubles,” Warney said. “It was an upcoming election year. He didn’t want to be embarrassed in the media.”

Warney testified about meeting with Bencivengo and Ljuba sometime later. All agreed to write a $5,000 check for a “cherry bedroom set” to Warney’s wife, he said. The money was then funneled to the mayor by Warney.

The former township official told jurors he was Bencivengo’s best friend.

“I thought he was my best friend,” said Warney, adding Bencivengo was best man at Warney’s wedding.

“I would do anything for him,” he said.

Earlier, Warney, a former Hamilton school board member, testified that he demanded Ljuba pay him for his vote on the school board in 2006.

“I totally regret that and it was actually illegal,” Warney said, explaining he received $10,000 from Ljuba.

Warney pleaded guilty earlier in the year to money laundering in connection with funneling the $5,000 to the mayor.

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 2nd

Campaign season now under way in Bergen County Politics is practiced year-round in Bergen County, and street-level campaigning has been going on quietly all summer. But both Republicans and Democrats say the Rutherford Street Fair on Labor Day signals a more intense phase of electioneering. (Ensslin/The Bergen Record) http://www.northjersey.com/news/campaign-season-now-under-way-in-bergen-county-1.1079080  ...

Op-Ed

White House’s Tuition Challenge Being Met in NJ

By MICHAEL W. KLEIN In his weekly radio address on August 16, President Obama challenged colleges “to do their part to bring down costs” and lighten the tuition burden on students.  The state colleges and universities in New Jersey have... Read More >

Contributors

My Republican Hillary Clinton Experience    There is a veritable plethora of reportage in print, internet, television and radio media speculating as to whether Hillary Clinton will seek the Democratic... more »
(8-27-14) All Americans Should Support Gov. Perry - Political prosecutions have no place in American life. Those who use the justice system as they are using it in Texas... more »
(Asbury Park, NJ) -- There's a word for someone who says one thing and does another: hypocrite.  There's no shortage of 'em in Trenton -- from ... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"Governor Christie ripped President Obama this summer for failing to carve out some time during a Texas fundraising swing to visit the Mexican border, where the unprecedented flood of immigrant children from Central America had reached a crisis point. ...Yet Christie is not squeezing in a tour of the troubled border during his own three-day trade and diplomatic mission to Mexico, which is set to begin on Wednesday. The governor is planning a series of meetings with Mexican officials, including President Enrique Peña Nieto and the finance and energy ministers." - columnist Charles Stile

- The Bergen Record

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Governor Chris Christie's trip to Mexico...:

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