Why the FBI is Investigating Ocean County Commissioners and Hiring Practices?

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed their hand in a long-running anti-corruption investigation into politicians in Ocean County. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the FBI questioned several Ocean County residents about the dealings of several Ocean County elected officials and professionals. Included in that line of questioning were pay-to-play jobs, nepotism, and political patronage.

Now, the same investigators who took down Solomon Dwek, Michael Rittaco and other prominent shore area politicians over the past two decades are looking again because not much has changed.

The FBI requested information related to hirings by the Ocean County Board of Commissioners. It’s no secret that most of the jobs at the county level are given to friends, family members, political donors and family members of political donors. It’s always been that way.

What has changed in the past few years has been the openness of those discussions.

In 2019, Jackson Mayor Michael Reina publicly and openly admitted he was giving out public jobs and contracts to “give everyone a piece of the pie”. Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman and his henchman, New Jersey Assemblyman Greg McGuckin, the two public jobs powerbrokers, have been very clear with the people in their ranks.

Do as they say, or your public job will be on the line. Go against us, and you and your family will not only lose their public jobs, but your circle also won’t get any more ‘pie’.

People like Ginny Haines and others on the board use the county’s public jobs to pay back political favors. Heck, I was even offered a public job by Freeholder Jack Kelly two years ago because he felt he “Need to get me out of the media”. Of course, I politely rejected that offer, because beyond the illegality of it, it’s not a direction I was interested in going.

They are that open about it that they would offer a member of the press a public job in order to negate bad press coverage. Why not? It has worked for them in the past. 9 out 10 public information officers in the county are former press workers turned state stooges for an extra buck dangled by a freeholder (now commissioner).

Giving public jobs for political favors has been a rite of passage for politicians since the formation of America, but in recent years, the Ocean County GOP got sloppy with it. It used to be ‘unspoken’, but nowadays, jobs in ocean count are a political weapon used publicly by the leaders in the county.

The FBI has been watching them for years. It should come as no surprise to anyone in Ocean County that they are now circling their prey in Ocean County. Two years ago, we reported the start of this investigation. Still, with the word out that the FBI was watching, the brazen criminal enterprise continued business as usual.

Threatening family members, firing people for not voting or endorsing the right person, stripping jobs simply because people were “friends with the wrong flavor of the chairman”.

Greg McGuckin told me himself in a private lunch at a diner on Route 37 in Toms River. There are two teams in Ocean County. Team Holman and Team Gilmore. Those who were perceived to be on Team Gilmore would be fired, shunned, and lose their public office and public jobs. McGuckin also told his plan to ‘destroy’ Shore News Network because of our coverage of his party’s corruption.

Now, it seems as if McGuckin, Holman, Haines, and the rest of them are staring down the double barrel of an FBI shotgun and could be the next ones in line for a Presidential pardon.

Ocean County has been the gift that keeps on giving for the FBI, and if you’re familiar with FBI investigations, the agency typically doesn’t waste its time chasing shadows. They move in once they have a clear-cut case.

In the coming weeks or months, we’ll know for sure which one of the gang is being targeted, but until then, it can be assumed there will be many sleepless nights, document shredding, backtracking and who knows, maybe even some singing ahead of the big day when the trucks full of three-letter jacket guys get out with hand trucks and start loading people, computers, and papers into unmarked vans.