The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office are helping Egg Harbor Township police investigate what township police said was an "outside intrusion into a municipal banking account"that was to blame for missing municipal funds."
Mayor James J. "Sonny" McCullough said that law enforcement officials are investigating a potential computer crime, but declined to elaborate.
In a Friday afternoon release, the township police department said both the Atlantic County Prosecutors Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are helping Egg Harbor Township Police Detective Anthony Merendino investigate the incident.
Police spokesman Sgt. Robert Gray said the township's Chief Finance Officer Jennifer McIver discovered the missing funds Thursday afternoon. McIver was not at work on Friday, township staff said, on a previously scheduled day off.
Committeeman John W. Risley, Jr. said the sum was "a sizable amount," but would not say how much was at issue.
"Whether it's been stolen or whether its been misplaced" remained to be seen, Deputy Mayor Stanley "Jake" Glassey said Friday afternoon.
In a statement, the township police also warned the public that computer criminals have become more sophisticated.
"Emails can appear to originate from your bank, or other legitimate location, and when opened can cause great financial damage," the department wrote. "Use extra care with your email and where you may send/enter any personal information."
Gray declined to characterize what the department believes happened to the funds. Asked if the narrowly-worded warning related to the township's funds, he said "You can take if for what you want, but that's all I can give you."
Atlantic County Prosecutor Theodore Housel said in a statement that the policy of his office was "not to comment on the existence or not of an investigation unless there is conclusive evidence of criminality or charges have been filed."
McCullough complained about an article in the Press of Atlantic City on Friday, in which Business Administrator Peter Miller confirmed the investigation.
"I can tell you I was extremely upset to read that article in the newspaper," McCullough said. "It basically compromised our investigation that was taking place. It should have never been leaked out to the press."
Staff Writer Dan Good contributed to this report.