The director of the Gloucester County Board of Commissioners is pressing the county prosecutor to speed up her investigation into the death of a K9 Ember, a three-year-old Golden Retriever used in arson investigations that died after being left in Fire Marshal Shawn Layton’s county vehicle.
Frank DiMarco, who faces a competitive race for re-election in 54 days, sent a letter to acting Gloucester County Prosecutor Christine A. Hoffman on Wednesday requesting a speedy end to the probe.
“This matter has been ongoing for numerous days and has increasingly led to more public interest and media interest,” said. “While the matter certainly should receive a thorough review, I do request on behalf of the Board of Commissioners that this matter be resolved as soon as possible so everyone can receive the results that this matter deserves.”
The dog was found dead on August 13 after allegedly being left overnight in Layton’s SUV.
DiMarco told the New Jersey Globe last month that Chad Bruner, the county administrator and the Democratic county chairman, spoke to him that morning and informed him that the dog had died.
But DiMarco and Bruner did not report the incident to the prosecutor. Sheriff Jonathan Sammons notified Hoffman’s office two days later upon learning of K9 Ember’s death.
Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University, said that DiMarco’s move could be viewed as political interference.
“As a candidate in this year’s election, which will determine which party controls the commissioner board, DiMarco is putting Hoffman in an untenable position,” Rasmussen said. “Many prosecutors would not want to take any action in close proximity to an election that she could influence.”
Rasmussen said that DiMarco’s letter could slow things down, especially if a speedy response could be interpreted as the prosecutor reacting to a request from a candidate in an election that could determine party control of county government.
“You could certainly see her deciding that her best bet is just to let the investigation run its course and take however long it takes,” said Rasmussen.
A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.