TOMS RIVER, NJ – The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development are continuing their massive investigation into the inner workings of possible political corruption in Toms River. The state has not identified exactly what they are looking for or what they hope to find, but a recent 20,000 plus document subpoena from the LWD hints at possible political corruption and violations within the employment records of Toms River Township. Toms River has long been seen as a safe haven for political corruption and job dealing in return for political favors.
A heavily redacted letter sent by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to the Township of Toms River sent on September 17th revealed the state is looking into the town’s employment history, tax payments, disability payments and more. The letter sent to the township was filed with NJSA requesting two years of employment, insurance and payroll records of all township employees. Despite the document being heavily redacted by the clerk’s office and the Department of Public Law, headed by pay to play attorney Gregory P. McGuckin, the redactions were easily seen in the document released through an OPRA request by Shore News Network.
The thick and heavy methane smell from the swamp gas emitting from the Downtown Toms River swamp can be detected even beyond the overpowering stench of the Ocean County landfill these days as political corruption has run rampant under the leadership of new Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill. Hill has been involved in shady land deals, but it’s probable that the investigation into the township pre-dates Hill’s administration and could have ties to the current business administrator and political allies.
The Department of Labor requested more than 20,000 payrolls, itemized deductions, disability insurance, pay scales and other employee records.
It’s not clear at this time what the DOL is investigating at this time with this unprecedented audit, but here are the ten items requested by the investigation:
- Time records, time cards, time sheets with daily and weekly hours worked by each employee of the Township of Toms River.
- Payroll records, register/journal for each pay period for all employees with gross pay, rate of pay and itemized deductions.
- Employee records – A list of all township employees during the last two years including employee’s name, address, social security numbers along with their hire and termination dates and job titles.
- Copies of township unemployment records and unemployment payment records, including canceled checks as proof of payment of unemployment insurance.
- Federal Employer Identification Number.
- Workers’ compensation, insurance company, policy numbers and effective expiration dates.
- Identification of all bank accounts and branch names, addresses of accounts help by the township for both general and payroll financial accounts.
- Company ownership information of vendors, including names, titles, home addresses and social security numbers.
- Copy of employee handbook and any records for earned sick leave, including but not limited to a notification to employees, designated benefit years, hours worked, accrued or advanced leave balances, used, earned, paid out or carried over to include medical documentation along with those personal records.
- Working papers and certificates to any minors working for the township under the age of 18 years old within the last two years.
The state gave the township until October 20th to provide the state with the requested documentation. It is unclear what the state is looking for, but the township has been under fire for unfair hiring practices, pay to play violations, nepotism, cronyism and the awarding of patronage jobs since Mayor Maurice Hill took office in January. The request is unprecedented during the COVID-19 pandemic, which could mean the DOL and Attorney General’s Office are investing a possible criminal probe into wrongdoing or corruption within the township.
This year, Mo Hill made sweeping changes in government when he fired and hired dozens of politically connected employees. Hill said the effort was to reduce staffing, but in reality, it was a smokescreen for Hill to fire and reassign township workers loyal to former Mayor Thomas Kelaher, including the hiring of New Jersey Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin to the newly created Department of Public Law. McGuckin donated tens of thousands of dollars to Toms River candidates over the past two election cycles, including Hill, councilmen Matt Lotano, Josh Kopp and Kevin Geohegan, in addition to Councilwoman Maria Maruca.