United States Attorney
District of New Jersey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Rebekah CarmichaelJune 21, 2012 Office of Public Affairswww.justice.gov/usao/nj(973) 645-2888
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J., MAYOR INDICTED FOR ALLEGED EXTORTION,BRIBERY, AND MONEY LAUNDERING OFFENSES
TRENTON, N.J. – A federal grand jury returned an Indictment today charging the mayor of Hamilton Township, N.J., in connection with $12,400 in bribes he allegedly solicited andaccepted in exchange for his official influence to assist a cooperating witness in maintaining the position of health insurance broker with the township’s school district, U.S. Attorney Paul J.Fishman announced.John Bencivengo, 58, of Hamilton, was originally charged by Complaint in April 2012with one count of attempted obstruction of commerce by extortion under the color of officialright related to the alleged bribes. The Indictment adds a count of obstruction of commerce byextortion under the color of official right; two counts of violating the federal Travel Act, for allegedly causing the interstate travel of a cooperating witness (the “CW”) and using a facility ininterstate commerce in aid of the bribery scheme; and one count of money laundering.According to the Indictment and other documents filed in this case:While serving as mayor between May 2011 and July 2011, Bencivengo accepted payments totaling $12,400 from the CW. In exchange, Bencivengo agreed to use his officialassistance, action, and influence to assist the CW and the CW’s employer – identified in theIndictment as the “Insurance Broker” – to retain the position as health insurance broker for theHamilton Township School District. Bencivengo agreed to speak to a member of the SchoolDistrict’s Board of Education – identified in the Indictment as “School Board Member No. 1” – about retaining the CW as the school district’s health insurance broker instead of putting that position out for public bid; and agreed to let the CW choose the individual to replace another member of the school board – identified in the Indictment as “School Board Member No. 2” – if that member left the board to run for the New Jersey Assembly.Bencivengo received the $12,400 in multiple payments. The CW passed a $5,000 check to an intermediary who accepted it on Bencivengo’s behalf. Bencivengo, the intermediary, andthe CW later agreed to make the check payable to the intermediary’s spouse to further concealthe payment. In addition, Bencivengo, the intermediary, and the CW agreed to put the notation“cherry bedroom set” on the check, agreeing that if anyone asked about the payment, they wouldsay that the CW bought a bedroom set from the intermediary’s spouse. After receiving thecheck, the intermediary deposited the check and distributed the proceeds to Bencivengo in cashincrements over several weeks.