Wildwood, NJ mayor, former mayor charged with state health benefits fraud, records tampering
WILDWOOD — Three local officials from a popular Jersey Shore destination are accused of breaking the "public trust" by taking for state health benefits that they were not eligible to receive.
Mayor Peter Byron, former Mayor Ernest Troiano, and current City Commissioner Steven Mikulski are each charged with unlawful taking and tampering with public records. Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced the charges late Friday.
Byron, 67, a Democrat, and Troiano, 71, a Republican, were first elected as city commissioners in 2011. Prosecutors said that the same year, they voted to pass a resolution declaring themselves as full-time employees working at least 35 hours each week.
Working those hours, the two officials would have been eligible for the State Health Benefits Program in accordance with a state law passed in 2010.
However, the men "falsely signed and submitted timesheets to the city" claiming they worked full days Monday through Friday, Platkin said.
Prosecutors said Wildwood and the SHBP paid $286,500 in premiums and claims for Troiano through 2019. Wildwood and SHBP paid $608,900 in premiums and claims for Byron through 2021, according to the Attorney General's Office.
Mikulski, 57, took office in 2020. He's similarly accused of taking $103,000 in paid premiums and claims from Wildwood and SHBP.
“Today we bring charges against current and former public and elected officials for what we allege are breaches of the public trust,” Platkin said.