Acting AG Platkin Proclaims Charges Against Wildwood Mayor, Former Mayor, and City Commissioner for Fraudulently Participating in State Health Insurance Program – MidJersey.News

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June 24, 2022

WILDWOOD, NJ — Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced today that Wildwood Mayor Peter J. Byron, former Mayor Ernest V. Troiano Jr., and current City Commissioner Steven E. Mikulski have been charged criminally for fraudulently participating within the State Health Advantages Program (SHBP).

Byron, 67, Troiano, 71, and Mikulski, 57, all residents of Wildwood, N.J., were each charged today by complaint-summons with second-degree theft by illegal taking and third-degree tampering with public records or information. The three current and former city officials were charged in an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) that began with a referral from the Recent Jersey Division of Pensions and Advantages.

“Today we bring charges against current and former public and elected officials for what we allege are breaches of the general public trust,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “We are going to work tirelessly to root out public corruption and restore faith in our institutions.”

Since 2010, Recent Jersey law has required elected officials to be full-time employees “whose hours of labor are fixed at 35 or more per week” of their elected positions to be eligible to take part in the SHBP and receive employer-provided healthcare. The investigation revealed that Byron, Troiano, and Mikulski were never eligible because they were never “full-time” employees as defined by state law. They didn’t receive vacation, sick, or personal days, and maintained no regular schedule. It’s alleged, nonetheless, that every one three fraudulently enrolled within the SHBP and received publicly funded health advantages.

Troiano and Byron were elected to Wildwood’s three-member City Commission in 2011, and Troiano was sworn in as mayor. Each men voted in 2011 to pass a resolution that declared themselves full-time employees working “a minimum of 35 hours per week” for Wildwood. They subsequently enrolled within the SHBP. While Troiano and Byron didn’t work a daily full-time schedule or work no less than 35 hours per week, they allegedly falsely signed and submitted timesheets to the town indicating they worked full days Monday through Friday. In consequence, Wildwood and the SHBP paid over $286,500 in premiums and claims on behalf of Troiano from July 2011 through December 2019, and paid over $608,900 in premiums and claims on behalf of Byron from July 2011 through October 2021.

Mikulski became a member of Wildwood’s Commission in 2020. He enrolled within the SHBP and has since received publicly funded health advantages. Wildwood and the SHBP have paid over $103,000 in premiums and claims on his behalf through October 2021. It’s alleged that he knowingly made false statements in a “Health Advantages Enrollment and/or Change Form” submitted to the City of Wildwood.

Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis is prosecuting the case for the OPIA Corruption Bureau under the supervision of Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione, with the help of Detectives of the Recent Jersey State Police Official Corruption South Unit. Acting Attorney General Platkin thanked the Recent Jersey Division of Pensions and Advantages for his or her referral.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of 5 to 10 years in state prison and a tremendous of as much as $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to 5 years in prison and a tremendous of as much as $15,000. The fees are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Defense Attorneys

For Troiano: Undetermined.

For Byron: Undetermined.

For Mikulski: John Tumelty, Esq., Marmora, N.J. 

Photo: City of Wildwood Recent Jersey Facebook Page

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