The South Jersey Transportation Authority board voted against ending its contract with the law firm Gilmore & Monahan this week but will probably revisit the decision after one of the firm’s partners was found guilty of financial crimes.
The vote was taken Wednesday morning, before the verdicts regarding George Gilmore, 69, of Toms River, were known, said board member James “Sonny” McCullough, the former mayor of Egg Harbor Township.
SJTA officials did not respond to a request for comment.
McCullough said many members were reluctant to end the contract based only on charges.
Gilmore has served as Ocean County Republican chairman since 1996. Ocean has the most registered Republicans of any county in the state, election statistics show.
He was found guilty by a jury of two counts of failing to pay payroll taxes to the IRS collected from his firm’s employees and one count of making false statements when applying for an OceanFirst Bank loan later Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court.
At the same time, Gilmore was acquitted of two counts of filing false tax returns, and the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on one count of income-tax evasion covering three years of returns, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
McCullough said only board Chairman Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, who is the commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, and Vice Chairman Jeffery A. April voted in favor of cutting ties with the firm.
“Knowing her position, I believe she is going to call a special meeting (to vote again),” said McCullough, who said he needs more information about whether Gilmore will continue in his role in the law firm, and about the appeal of Gilmore’s case, before committing to how he would vote.
McCullough said Gilmore did not generally handle the law firm’s work for the SJTA. He said he has only met Gilmore three or four times in his life.
“To me it’s all politics,” Gilmore’s lawyer Kevin Marino, of Marino, Tortorella & Boyle in Chatham, Morris County, said Friday. “It doesn’t have anything to do with a belief that Mr. Gilmore has done anything criminal.”
Marino said he is working with the state Attorney General’s Office on a stipulation agreement for Gilmore to step down from public jobs pending the result of motions he has filed to attempt to reverse the jury’s verdict, but could not say whether that would include contracts involving Gilmore’s law firm.
He said the details will be worked out early next week.
Marino said he is confident he will prevail in having the verdicts overturned.
Arguments will be in late May, and a decision should come soon after that, Marino said.
He said it was ridiculous that “not paying two quarters of payroll taxes and not clicking a box” on a tax form should spell the end of Gilmore’s career.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Gilmore exercised primary control over the law firm’s finances and for the tax quarters ending March 31, 2016, and June 30, 2016, the law firm withheld tax payments from its employees’ checks, but Gilmore failed to pay those taxes in full to the IRS.
Gilmore also submitted a loan application to OceanFirst containing false statements, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, to obtain refinancing of a mortgage loan for $1.5 million with a “cash out” provision for which he received $572,000.
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. Sentencing is scheduled for July 23.