Home>Local>Gloucester>Gloucester county administrator lived with his employee, the county fire marshal, until two weeks before dog’s death

Gloucester County Administrator Chad Bruner. (Photo: Rowan University).

Gloucester county administrator lived with his employee, the county fire marshal, until two weeks before dog’s death

Chad Bruner, the Democratic county chairman, moved into Shawn Layton’s house earlier this year

By David Wildstein, September 13 2022 3:35 pm

Gloucester County Administrator Chad M. Bruner was the roommate of the county fire marshal  who was allegedly responsible for the death of a three-year-old Golden Retriever trained as an arson investigator,  until just two weeks before the dog apparently suffocated inside a county-owned outside of the official’s Mantua home.

The decison of Bruner, who became the Gloucester County Democratic chairman in June, to move into the home of one of his employees, Shawn Layton, the fire marshal and a Democratic township committeeman, is just the latest in a series of oddities surrounding the death of K9 Ember last month.

The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation of the dog’s death, but it’s not clear if the probe includes Bruner’s decision to move into a home owned by Layton, who works for him in county government.

Records show that Bruner, 51, along with his wife and son, moved into a home owned by the 31-year-old Layton.  Bruner signed nominating petitions in March using Layton’s home address 215 Barnsboro Road, registered to vote from there for the June primary.

In June, Bruner was elected county chairman to replace State Sen. Fred Madden (D-Washington).  He changed his voter registration to Glassboro on July 31, records show, just thirteen days before the first responder dog under Layton’s care died in the 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe assigned to him by the county.

Layton buried the dog in his backyard and the events were not reported to the prosecutor’s office for more than two days, when Sheriff Jonathan Sammons, a Republican, did so.

Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University, said that the living relationship between Bruner and one of his employees creates a potential problem.

“The best practice is never to do it.  There’s a strong likelihood of an enormous conflict of interest here,” Rasmussen said.  “How can you provide effective supervision of an employee — which is what you are being paid to do — if you live under the same roof?  It would be reasonable to wonder whether there are financial entanglements between them as well.”

A personal financial disclosure filed by Bruner in April lists no property in his name, while one filed the same day by Layton lists his 100% ownership of his home.   Layton shows no rental income from Bruner, and Bruner declared no gifts from Layton.

Records show that Bruner sold his home at 124 Barnsboro Road on March 3.

The Bruner and Layton families are strongly entrenched in Mantua local government.

Bruner also serves as chairman of the Rowan University Board of Trustees and is a director of the South Jersey Port Corporation.

Layton did not respond to a 3:15 PM call seeking comment, or other calls placed to his office over the last few weeks.

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