Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo, convicted today of accepting a bribe from a local insurance broker in exchange for help with a contract, will step down from his post effective tomorrow.
Bencivengo's resignation was announced tonight at the township council meeting.
Bencivengo was convicted today on five counts of accepting a bribe for official action and money laundering. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Arrested in April, the Hamilton Republican was accused of taking a $12,400 bribe from insurance broker Marliese Ljuba in exchange for aiding Ljuba in maintaining the contract with the Hamilton Township school board. The money was laundered through another township employee under the guise of a furniture purchase. Bencivengo maintained that the money was a loan.
Ljuba, who was at one time a close friend of Bencivengo, became a cooperating witness for the FBI, wearing a wire to ensnare Bencivengo in the bribery probe.
Two other township employees, Director of Planning Rob Warney and Recreation Director Cathy Tramontana, already have stepped down as a result of the corruption investigation. Warney pleaded guilty to money laundering for helping Bencivengo disguise the bribe and Tramontana resigned after Ljuba testified she had paid for trips for her and her husband Joseph Tramontana, who is the school district business administrator.
Joseph Tramontana has been placed on paid administrative leave by the school district.
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"This is my first Mark Smith event. There have been a lot of changes in Hudson County over the last year and a half, and the most important change that has happened is that there really is unity. For the first time, we really are working together. Despite political differences. Mark and I have worked very hard to repair that. I'm really happy to be here in support of him, because I recognize that when you work together, politics becomes secondary and you really have time to focus on government, which is the most important thing." - Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop- PolitickerNJ.com
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