The former mayor of an Ocean County municipality pled guilty on Friday to the crime of Pattern of Official Misconduct. He faces up to three years in prison, subject to a two-year period of parole ineligibility. He will also be permanently disqualified from holding any future public office or employment.
Prosecutors say that Paul Kennedy, 66, in his capacity as Mayor of the Borough of Ocean Gate, failed to turn over proceeds from the sale of borough assets – sold by way of the government auction website GovDeals.com – and instead took possession of those proceeds for his own personal benefit. Investigation further revealed that Kennedy failed to deposit borough parking meter funds in the borough’s bank account, and that he sold borough office furniture through a private Facebook Marketplace account, attempting to keep the proceeds for his personal benefit.
On March 18, 2022, Kennedy was charged with Official Misconduct and Theft, and surrendered himself to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office. He was released on a summons pending future appearances in Ocean County Superior Court.
Continuing investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Professional Standards/Corruption Unit and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad determined that Kennedy collected cash from the sale of scrap metal originating in the Borough Recycling Center, and then failed to turn the proceeds over to the Borough.
Likewise, as Mayor, Kennedy converted funds donated by contributors to “Friends of Ocean Gate” for his re-election campaign, as well as the campaign of his running mates, for his personal benefit. As a consequence, Kennedy was charged with additional counts of Official Misconduct. On May 4, 2022, Kennedy surrendered himself to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office. He was released on a summons pending future appearances in Ocean County Superior Court.