Former Asbury Park Housing Authority Executive pleads guilty to stealing funds
The former Executive Director of the Asbury Park Housing Authority pleads guilty to stealing over $90-thousand dollars from the organization between 2008 and 2011.
Mark Holmes Sr., 56, of Lawrence Township used the money for personal expenses while away on business including spa treatments, in-room hotel movies and fees to at gentleman's clubs and allegedly used APHA funds to pay for stretch limousine service to transport him and his family to and from the airport at least three times.
An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office found Holmes stole over $90,000.00 by diverting state grant funds, collecting reimbursements for unauthorized meals, and double-dipping on per diem payments when traveling.
Holmes was Deputy Director of the city-run organization before taking the top job and months before had applied for and received a $99,897.00 grant award from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
This Literacy Skills Training Grant was intended to provide training in computers and other marketable skills for Asbury Park public housing residents.
Between November 2008 and August 2009, with Holmes serving as executive director, the APHA received over $75,000 from the State as part of the Training Grant.
Holmes transferred over $58,000.00 of the funds to the APHA Community Development Corporation, an organization he created, and, instead of using the money for training purposes, he gave himself a $50,000.00 salary increase without APHA Board approval.
He also opened up credit cards in the name of the "APHA" and "APHA Community Development Corporation" and used the cards for personal expenses.
Holmes additionally changed the mailing addresses for the bills to go directly to his personal residence all the while racking up over $30,000.00 in debt.
As Executive Director for two and a half years, Holmes went on over 30 business trips across the country.
Prior to these trips, Holmes received over $22,000 in per diem payments from the APHA which were intended to cover meal expenses while away on business.
Holmes also used over $13,000 of APHA funds for unauthorized meal expenses in the Asbury Park and Lawrenceville areas.
The former Lawrence Township mayor and town councilman faces five years if convicted at an April sentencing on second degree Theft by Unlawful Taking, a charge he has plead guilty to.
As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to pay $35,000.00 in restitution for money he hasn't reimbursed the Asbury Park Housing Authority and to forfeit his government-funded pension as well as any future public employment in New Jersey.
"Everyone, including public officials, must be held accountable when they break the law. Public service is a privilege and requires a level of trust by our constituents - a trust that Mr. Holmes exploited," Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni said.
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