Thomas Hughes, the former supervisor at the town of Princeton’s sewer department facility on River Road, has been charged with bribery in the second degree for allegedly accepting payments “to influence his official duties,” police said Monday.
Hughes was charged on a summons complaint and released pending future court appearances. His first appearance in Mercer County Superior Court is scheduled for June 27.
The charge results from a joint investigation of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and Princeton Police Department into alleged illegal dumping at the Princeton sewer department facility and convenience center.
Hughes, a resident of Browns Mills, was fired on June 6 after police investigated allegations that he allegedly allowed contractors to dump dirt, asphalt and other materials at the municipal facility on River Road in exchange for cash.
Last week, a top department head was put on paid leave while the investigation into operations at the sewer department continues. The investigation was triggered by inquiries and a story by Planet Princeton three weeks ago.
The complaint against Hughes cites New Jersey Title 2C, section 2C:27-2, which covers bribery in official and political matters. A person is guilty of bribery if he directly or indirectly offers, confers or agrees to confer upon another, or solicits, accepts or agrees to accept from another:
a. Any benefit as consideration for a decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or exercise of discretion of a public servant, party official or voter on any public issue or in any public election; or
b. Any benefit as consideration for a decision, vote, recommendation or exercise of official discretion in a judicial or administrative proceeding; or
c. Any benefit as consideration for a violation of an official duty of a public servant or party official; or
d. Any benefit as consideration for the performance of official duties.
“In any prosecution under this section of an actor who offered, conferred or agreed to confer, or who solicited, accepted or agreed to accept a benefit, it is no defense that he did so as a result of conduct by another constituting theft by extortion or coercion or an attempt to commit either of those crimes,” reads the statute. “Any offense proscribed by this section is a crime of the second degree. If the benefit offered, conferred, agreed to be conferred, solicited, accepted or agreed to be accepted is of the value of $200 or less, any offense proscribed by this section is a crime of the third degree.”
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