TOMS RIVER – In the wake of guilty verdicts on three out of six charges relating to tax evasion, the office of the attorney general stated that the GOP county leader should be removed from public positions.
George Gilmore, 70, of Toms River, was found guilty by a jury of three charges involving withholding federal taxes from his employees at the law firm of Gilmore & Monahan. This firm does work with many municipalities, including Berkeley, Manchester, and Lacey.
“I can confirm that the Attorney General’s Office will be pursuing the forfeiture of all public positions held by Mr. Gilmore,” stated Sharon Lauchaire, the director of the office of communications for the New Jersey Attorney General’s office.
Can Gilmore Vote?
Gilmore is currently the chairman of the Ocean County Elections Board. However, that might also be called into question.
According to New Jersey Statute 19:31-17, Gilmore, having been convicted of a crime, can not vote.
His attorney has said in The Asbury Park Press that he is seeking to overturn the conviction. He did not return a request to comment for this story.
Additionally, Gilmore might not even have the job at the election board to begin with. These positions are appointed by the governor and they expire every two years. Gilmore was last appointed by Chris Christie on May 26, 2016. He receives $22,500 a year for this job, as well as insurance benefits and a pension.
Another commissioner, Rabbi Yisroel Schenkolewski, was last appointed by Jon Corzine on May 20, 2009.
The other two commissioners, Matthew Sage and Wyatt Earp, were appointed by Gov. Phil Murphy and their positions expire in 2020 and 2021.
Earp makes $37,750. Sage and Schenkolewski make $15,000. Sage is the only one who doesn’t get insurance.
When Murphy’s office was asked about the missing appointments to the Board of Elections, a spokesman replied “The Governor’s Office does not comment on appointments that have not yet been made.”
Gilmore was found guilty of one charge of making false statements on a 2015 loan application submitted to Ocean First Bank, and two charges of failing to collect, account for, and pay over payroll taxes withheld from employees for two quarters in 2016.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office detailed the charges. As a partner and shareholder at Gilmore & Monahan, he was in control of the law firm’s financials. For tax quarters ending March 31, 2016 and June 30, 2016, the firm withheld tax payments from its employees checks, but Gilmore did not pay them in full to the IRS.
Regarding the loan application, he applied for a Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) to obtain refinancing of a mortgage loan for $1.5 million with a “cash out” provision that provided Gilmore would obtain cash from the loan on Nov. 21, 2014. On Jan. 22, 2015, he updated the application, failing to disclose outstanding 2013 tax liabilities and personal loans he got from other people. He had received $572,000 from the cash out portion of the loan.
The jury was not able to reach a decision on the charge of tax evasion for years 2013, 2014, and 2015, the court spokesman said. He was acquitted of two charges of filing false tax returns for calendar years 2013 and 2014.
The sentencing date will be July 23. The two counts of failing to collect, account for, and pay over payroll taxes each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The count of loan application fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
He had been accused of evading more than $1 million in taxes. Meanwhile, he had been spending a great deal on home remodeling and lavish decorations, reportedly such things as a mammoth tusk and a statue of George Washington.
His attorney, Kevin Marino, had said that these purchases were due to a hoarding disorder, and even retained a psychological expert to testify about it. However, the federal government did not want to hear that testimony.
Gilmore is a prominent figure in Ocean County politics. Democrats have long seen him as the head of a larger problem. Some Republicans are beginning to be vocal in opposition to him.
Toms River Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill called on “all Republican elected officials in Ocean County and NJ Republican Chairman Doug Steinhardt to prevail upon Gilmore to do the right thing and resign.
“Mr. Gilmore’s insistence on holding on to his positions of public trust despite being convicted by a jury of his peers does not serve the best interest of the people of Ocean County or the Republican Party,” Hill said.
Hill, former Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, and Councilman Daniel Rodrick are running in the primary for the Republican nomination for mayor. Coronato has the support of the local club. All three of the candidates think Gilmore should step down.
Hill wished Gilmore well in his appeal. JerseyShoreOnline reached out to his attorney to see if there will be an appeal but no response was given as of press time.
Coronato also issued a statement that as a former prosecutor, he respects his constitutional right to appeal the verdict.
Stating that he is “deeply saddened by this news on a personal level…I am hopeful George does what is best for the party and steps aside as chairman while he continues his legal fight,” he said.
Rodrick took it a bit further, stating “The Chairman should step down, and so should Joe Coronato, his handpicked candidate for mayor. Coronato’s work with developers and his relationship with the chairman will make him unelectable come November.”
A few hours after the verdict had been made public, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders held their regular Wednesday afternoon meeting. Gilmore was not brought up during the meeting.
Afterwards, Freeholder Director Virginia Haines told a reporter that she is aware of the statements calling for his resignation. It’s their prerogative to ask him to step down, but it’s ultimately his decision, she said.
She would not comment on what Gilmore should do, and only said that he has been the Republican county chairman for 20 years and he will likely seek input from people and weigh his options.
Gilmore’s law firm did work for a number of local governing bodies. Some of these were subpoenaed by investigators. In February of 2017, Micromedia Publications reached out to some of the local towns to find out if they had been subpoenaed. Some responded, some did not.
Berkeley’s attorney, Lauren Staiger, who works for Gilmore and Monahan, said in January of 2017 that the town was served a subpoena seeking township records such as contracts and bills relating to the law firm, and their corresponding council resolutions and minutes of those meetings.
Bay Head had been subpoenaed. Eagleswood uses Gilmore and Monahan. However, they did not receive any subpoenas as of February of 2017. Jackson Township, Lacey Township, Plumsted Township all were subpoenaed.
Manchester Board of Education had used Thomas Monahan, the other half of the firm, but they reported that they were not subpoenaed. The boards of education for Bay Head, Point Pleasant, and Toms River all replied that they did not receive a subpoena.
The trial had begun April 1, 2019, before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, special agents with U.S. Attorney’s Office under the direction of Supervisory Special Agent Thomas Mahoney, and special agents of the FBI Red Bank Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s verdicts.
The government was represented in court by Deputy U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Skahill; Assistant U.S. Attorney Jihee G. Suh of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division; and Trial Attorney Thomas F. Koelbl of the U.S. Department of Justice – Tax Division.
– Jennifer Peacock contributed to this story