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Phillipsburg Mayor Steven Ellis

Judge issues warrant for arrest of Phillipsburg mayor

Mayor was no-show at court hearing today; lawyer says he never received notice

By David Wildstein, June 11 2019 6:09 pm

A bench warrant for the arrest of Phillipsburg Mayor Stephen Ellis was issued today after the mayor didn’t show up for a court hearing.

Ellis was due in municipal court this morning on a criminal complaint filed by Phillipsburg resident Priya Amador, who accused the first-term Democrat of threatening her.  Amador alleges that Ellis threatened her and made racist and homophobic comments.

Judge Katherine Howes of the combined Bedminster and Peapack-Gladstone municipal court, issued the warrant today and set a new court date for next week.  Howes set bail for Ellis of $1,000.

John Zaiter, the mayor’s attorney, said his client was not aware of the court today.

“We didn’t have the matter scheduled.  We didn’t receive a notice,” Zaiter said.  “If I had the notice he’d have been there today.

Ellis did not answer his phone and his mailbox was full.

Chief of Police Robert Stettner told the New Jersey Globe that he had not seen the warrant.  It is not immediately clear whether he will arrest Ellis or allow Howes to deal with the matter at next week’s court session.

Stettner’s father, JP Stettner, is running for councilman on Ellis’ ticket in the general election.

Zaiter said he has left a message for the court and is waiting to hear back from them.

“I doubt he’ll be arrested,” Zaiter said.  “I’m sure it will be cleared up.”

Ellis defeated Mark Lutz, a councilman, to win the Democratic nomination for a second term in last week’s primary election.

In the general election, Ellis will face Republican Todd Tersigni, a former two-term Democratic councilman who ran as an independent for mayor in 2011.

Ellis, who spent 35 years working for the New Jersey State Park Service, defeated four-term Republican incumbent Harry Wyant, Jr. in 2015.

Wyant is running for council on Tesigni’s ticket.

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