2002-10-18 / Front Page

Larkin selected as township’s mayor

Deputy mayor named
to post after resignation
of Terrance D. Weldon
By carolyn o

Deputy mayor named
to post after resignation
of Terrance D. Weldon’s
By carolyn o’connell
Staff Writer

Ocean Township Attorney Richard English (c) administers the mayor’s oath of office to William F. Larkin (l) while Trudy Wolfe-Larkin holds the Bible.Ocean Township Attorney Richard English (c) administers the mayor’s oath of office to William F. Larkin (l) while Trudy Wolfe-Larkin holds the Bible.

OCEAN TOWNSHIP — Moments after taking his oath of office as the new mayor, William F. Larkin faced an onslaught of questions concerning extortion charges about his predecessor.

On Oct. 10, Terrance D. Weldon, who was also the Asbury Park city administrator, pleaded guilty before Judge William H. Walls in federal court in Newark to taking $64,000 in bribes.

An investigation led by the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the IRS implicated Weldon on three charges of extortion regarding land deals in the township. Both of his offices and his home were raided by the FBI.

Weldon admitted to illegal activity and resigned as mayor of the township Oct. 7. At the same time he resigned from his position as Asbury Park city administrator.

Larkin told members of the public after taking his oath that neither he nor the council had information available regarding Weldon’s illegal activities.

But he did state that "the illegal activity does not affect public funds, nor has there been a diversion of funds."

Larkin pledged continued economic development for the township even in the face of the sobering news regarding Weldon.

At the time of his pledge, Larkin said he did not know what the specifics of the charges were and would not have any additional information on the matter until Weldon appeared before the U.S. District judge later that week.

On Monday he said the permits for one of the projects Weldon pleaded guilty to extorting money on — Apple Farm, off Green Grove Road and West Park Avenue — would not be issued, pending a review of a zoning change granted by a vote Weldon participated in.

He was unsure about the approvals granted for another of the projects, Rolling Meadows, also off West Park Avenue and Green Grove Road. That project is already under way.

The developer of Rolling Meadows, Continental Properties Inc., Woodbridge, also has received Planning Board approval for another project, 295 age-restricted, single-family homes. The project is called Cedar Village and is to be built on property off routes 18 and 66.

At the previous week’s meeting, Larkin responded to questions from residents about other approvals that had been granted and other issues related to Weldon.

Cliff Brautgan of Arbour Way asked, "Will any or all bids made [regarding other properties] be reviewed or put on hold?"

Larkin responded, "We will review policies related to property deals that may have played a role in the investigation."

Township Attorney Richard English said, "We are in the dark about all this, and what we do depends on what the investigation turns out."

But more than property deals are on the minds of residents. Questions were brought before the mayor and council regarding contributions to the campaign organization, Ocean United, which represents all of the current elected officials in the township.

Damian Sylvia asked, "Doesn’t anyone question the large amount of money in the campaign fund and its contributors?"

Larkin replied, "The reports go straight to the treasury, and the council does not get the reports."

However, in a report of contributors and expenditures filed on Jan. 5, 2001, with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the signatures of all council members as well as Weldon and Warren Goode, the campaign organization’s treasurer, appear on the form submitted to the state acknowledging receipt of the donations. Goode also is a member of the township’s Planning Board.

According to Sylvia, in 1999 the Adjmi family of Manhattan contributed $10,000; Eli Suruya of Brooklyn contributed $4,000; and Michael Gohar of Ocean and Phillip Konvitz of Neptune contributed $12,500 between them.

Konvitz and Gohar have been identified by the FBI as developers and businessmen in land deals Weldon extorted money from.

Sylvia also asked members of the governing body if they ever attended a fund-raiser held by Solomon Dwek in his home.

Dwek, well-known as a landowner, landlord and businessman in town, as well as in neighboring Long Branch and West Long Branch, has had applications before the township Planning Board.

Larkin said, "I don’t know specifically if it was at his house."

Councilwoman Mary Pat Napolitano said she did not think she had: "I am almost positive that it [the fund-raiser] was not at his [Dwek’s] house."

Napolitano added she is not concerned about the council being caught up in Weldon’s illegal dealings.

"Weldon kept to himself and kept us out of it," she said.

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