OCEAN GATE, NJ – Ocean Gate Mayor Paul Kennedy, 66, has been arrested and charged by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office after being caught diverting funds through his official capacity as mayor of the small Toms River waterfront community.
According to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer, Kennedy was charged with official misconduct and theft.
The prosecutor’s office on Friday announced Kennedy was being investigated by the agency’s Office of Professional Standards and Corruption Unit.
An investigation into Kennedy revealed he had been diverting public funds from the Borough of Ocean Gate into his own personal accounts. Kennedy is alleged to have stolen money from the borough parking meter funds and spent the money for “his own personal benefit”, the complaint against the mayor read.
Kennedy was also caught taking borough assets including furniture and selling those items on Facebook through his own private Facebook Marketplace account, keeping the proceeds for himself. Additionally, the Economic Crime Squad discovered Mayor Kennedy was skimming money from the borough’s government asset auction website GovDeals.com and depositing funds into his own personal bank accounts.
Kennedy was processed at the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office and released on a summons pending a future court date.
Prosecutor Billhimer described the investigation against Kennedy as “extensive”.
Kennedy a member of the Ocean County Republican organization was processed, according to a statement by Bryan Huntenburg, a public information officer for the prosecutor’s office, in the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, under Republican Sheriff Michael Mastronardy.
Mayor Kennedy was charged and released pending a future court hearing.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Professional Standards/Corruption Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crimes Squad, Ocean Gate Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.
Kennedy’s arrest is another black eye for the Ocean County Repbulican Organization which is currently engaged in an all-out civil war amongst its members. Kennedy’s term expired this year.
It’s not Kennedy’s first experience with misappropriating municipal funds. In 2014, The New Jersey Local Finance Board fined him for accepting $50,000 worth of public jobs with the borough while serving as mayor in 2014. Kennedy had given himself borough jobs as the borough human resources director, business administrator and insurance administrator.
Public records show Kennedy also earns $47,000 annually from the County of Ocean, according to public records as of December 31, 2021.
According the Ocean County Government website, Kennedy is identified as the Ocean Gate Borough Public Information Officer, Personnel Director and ADA Coordinator.