New Jersey News

Mayor Hill’s Plan to Sell Lakewood Official Public Land Worth $912K for Just $247K Exposed and Under Investigation

TOMS RIVER, NJ – Toms River – Mayor Hill’s discounted sale of public land to a Lakewood Planning Board Member was exposed by Councilman Dan Rodrick at the August 11th meeting of the Township Council.

1870 Hinds Rd is a 1.22 acre parcel of public land assessed at over $750,000, with a market value of $912,000. The property was slated to be sold to an anonymous LLC, but Councilman Rodrick produced documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act that identified the owner of the LLC as Lakewood Planning Board Member Chaim Sabel.

“Given the value of the land, the sale price, and the circumstances surrounding the sale, I believe this sale should be investigated,” Rodrick said.

A Resolution authorizing the sale of 1870 Hinds Rd for just $247K listed the llc as the “sole bidder,” but Councilman Rodrick produced screenshots from the internet auction showing there were bids above $247K – and it also showed there were numerous bidders.  Shore News Network has been in communication with the auction house, but they claim that the township was forwarded all bid and bidder information.

“Here we have a political insider getting a $900,000 piece of property for $250,000 – this is either extreme incompetence or it’s criminalm,” Rodrick said.

The 1870 Hinds Rd auction closed on June 24th, but the llc – which was listed as the “sole bidder” – wasn’t formed until 2 days later on June 26th. So if the township knew who all the bidders were – why would they allow a Lakewood Planning Board member to hide behind an anonymous post office box LLC?  And, given that there were bids higher than $247K, why was a Lakewood Official getting the property for a discounted price?

Council Rodrick suspects this may be bid-rigging, and sent all of the documentation to the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.  The Division advised Shore News Network that they are currently looking into the matter.   Bid Rigging is an Antitrust violation under the Sherman Act – punishable by up to $1 million in fines and up to 10 years in prison.

Mayor Hill has since reversed course, and the township has not gone through with the sale.  Shore News Network was unable to reach Lakewood Planning Board member Chaim Sabel, who declined comment to the Asbury Park Press.

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