FREEHOLD – Mark W. Holmes, Sr., the former Executive Director of the Asbury Park Housing Authority, was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing more than $90,000 from that organization between 2008 and 2011, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregrossa-O’Connor imposed the sentence upon Holmes, 56, a resident of Lawrence Township and former mayor and councilman of that Mercer County town. As part of his sentence, Holmes was ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution for monies he had not reimbursed the Asbury Park Housing Authority (APHA) and to forfeit his government-funded pension as well as any future public employment in New Jersey.
Holmes had previously pleaded guilty on January 9, 2018 before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge John R. Tassini to second degree Theft by Unlawful Taking.
An investigation conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that, during his period of employment with the Housing Authority, Holmes stole more than $90,000 by diverting state grant funds, and giving himself a $50,000 raise.
Holmes was Executive Director of the Asbury Park Housing Authority (APHA) between December 2008 and June 2011. While serving as Deputy Director of the Housing Authority, Holmes applied for and received a $99,897 grant award from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development which 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 of the funds to the APHA Community Development Corporation, an organization he created, and, rather than use the money for training purposes, Holmes used the money to fund a $50,000 salary increase for himself without APHA Board approval.
During the investigation, it was discovered that Holmes opened up credit cards in the name of the “APHA” and “APHA Community Development Corporation” and used the cards for personal expenses. He changed the mailing addresses for the bills to go directly to his personal residence and racked up over $30,000 in debt. Holmes paid off most of this credit card debt prior to the investigation commencing.
The investigation also revealed that while serving as Executive Director for a two and a half year period, Holmes went on more than 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. Upon his return, even though he had already received these monies, Holmes sought and received duplicate reimbursements from the APHA for meals for which he had already received the up-front per diem payments. Holmes also used APHA funds for personal expenditures while on these trips, including spa treatments, hotel in-room movies, and gentlemen’s clubs. On at least three occasions, he used APHA funds to pay for stretch limousine service to transport him and his family to and from the airport. Holmes also used over $13,000 of APHA funds for unauthorized meal expenses in the Asbury Park and Lawrenceville areas.
The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Lawrence Nelsen and Nicole Wallace.
Holmes is represented by Mark G. Davis, Esq., of Trenton.
In November 2012, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the leadership of Prosecutor Gramiccioni, launched a Corruption Tip Line designed to solicit the public’s assistance in identifying and targeting corruption, fraud and misconduct occurring in local governmental agencies.
Citizens may report concerns via the following: Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Corruption Tip Line – 855-7-UNJUST (855 786-5878); or E-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org and write “Corruption/Misconduct Tip” in the subject line.
Monmouth County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of criminals and fugitives. Citizens with information about a crime or fugitive may contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-671-4400, which is a confidential telephone tip-line; they can text “MONMOUTH” plus their tip to 274637; or, they can email a tip via the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com.