Former Ocean Gate Mayor Heading To Prison For Theft

Mayor Paul Kennedy (Photo courtesy Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office)

OCEAN GATE – Former Ocean Gate Mayor Paul Kennedy has been sentenced to three years in New Jersey State Prison as a result of a series of thefts he made while acting as the mayor, officials said.

  Kennedy, 68, previously entered guilty plea to the crime of Pattern of Official Misconduct. The sentence is subject to a two-year term of parole ineligibility. Additionally, Kennedy is permanently disqualified from holding any future public office or employment. Kennedy pled guilty to the charge on September 22, 2023.

  According to officials, Kennedy had sold borough assets on the government auction website and did not turn over the proceeds. According to authorities, he used this money for personal use.

  Additionally, detectives said that Kennedy failed to deposit borough parking meter funds in the borough’s bank account. He also sold borough office furniture through a private Facebook Marketplace account, with the intent of using the money for personal use.

  On March 18, 2022, Kennedy was charged with Official Misconduct and Theft, and surrendered himself to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office. He was released on a summons pending future appearances in Ocean County Superior Court.

  In addition, investigators discovered that Kennedy collected cash from the sale of scrap metal from the borough’s recycling center. He also converted funds donated by contributors to “Friends of Ocean Gate” for his re-election campaign, as well as the campaign of his running mates.

  As a result, Kennedy was charged with additional counts of Official Misconduct. On May 4, 2022, Kennedy surrendered himself to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office. He was released on a summons pending future appearances in Ocean County Superior Court.

  “This is a textbook example of public corruption: the leveraging of one’s official public position to gain unlawful personal benefits,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer stated. “The overwhelming majority of public officials perform their duties with integrity and honor. Mr. Kennedy, however, took advantage of the very citizens he was sworn to serve. He was elected to serve the people of Ocean Gate, yet he prioritized his personal interests and greed over the needs of his constituents. This is unacceptable conduct – conduct that only serves to undermine the public’s faith and confidence in public officials.  My office will continue to investigate and prosecute such breaches of public trust to the fullest extent of the law.”

  Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Michael Abatemarco who handled the case on behalf of the State, and commends 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 leading to Kennedy’s guilty plea, and now his state prison sentence.