OCEAN GATE, NJ – If you are a mayor of a town in Ocean County, there’s a good chance you have a patronage job with the county. The same holds true for disgraced Ocean Gate Mayor Paul Kennedy who was arrested last week by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office for stealing public funds.
Now, Mayor Kennedy has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case lodged against him by Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.
Ocean County Administrator Carl Block today told Shore News Network that Kennedy has been suspended without pay from his job in the county’s public works department where he earns an annual salary of $47,100 per year. Block did not provide further details, but it has since been alleged that Kennedy may have used his county vehicle while committing his crimes in Ocean Gate over the past 10 or so years.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office charges Kennedy with stealing money from borough parking meters, selling county property on the Facebook marketplace, and pocketing money from government public auction websites in which borough assets were sold. More allegations are coming to light in the case, but so far, no further charges have been filed with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
Today, Shore News Network reached out to Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman and Vice Chairwoman Pat Lane regarding Kennedy’s actions and received no comment.
According to Ocean Gate township records, Holman’s firm, Holman Frenia, has served as the municipal auditor for the borough of Ocean Gate through the periods where Kennedy committed his financial crimes.
When asked why the Holman Frenia firm, which Holman claims to have stepped down from, handing the reigns to his daughter, the theft of funds was not discovered through annual financial audits by his firm, Holman did not reply to emails and texts.
The incident draws attention to political party bosses having lucrative jobs in municipalities and possible conflicts of interest. In 2021, Holman’s accounting firm took in $4.1 million in public contracts, mostly in Ocean County and in towns across New Jersey where the chairman has made political contributions.
In Ocean Gate, Holman’s firm billed the Ocean Gate Board of Education $36,844 in 2021. The firm also billed the borough of Ocean Gate $35,315.84 for municipal accounting and auditing services.