Penns Grove Councilman Carl Washington, Jr. was charged with stealing about $8,200 from the Clean Communities Program, a state-funded program that cleans parks and other areas.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal alleges that Washington, the coordinator of the program, doctored paperwork to create fake checks made out to organizations controlled by several allies of the councilman, including his nephew, Lavar Ledbetter.
Washington lost his bid for re-election to a fourth term last month.
After his defeat, Washington resigned from his council seat and was appointed to fill a vacant seat created by the resignation of Rafael Leon. That allows Washington to remain on the council through next year.
A group of independent candidates ousted Democratic incumbents in Penns Grove in 2019.
Mayor John Washington was unseated by Ladaena Thomas by a 60%-40% margin. Washington and Clifford Poindexter, who served more than 20 years as councilmen, lost to Carol Mincey and Michael Bercute in tight races. Poindexter lost by 70 votes and Washington ran 9 votes behind his running mate.
Ledbetter was also charged with assisting with the thefts.
“As a local council member, Washington was entrusted with state funding that was intended to benefit local groups in their efforts to keep parks and other public spaces in Penns Grove clean and beautiful,” said Grewal. “He took an oath to uphold the law and honestly serve borough residents, but we allege that he shamelessly betrayed that oath for his own enrichment.”
Washington faces charges of official misconduct, conspiracy and misapplication of entrusted property and property of government.
He is the seventh local official or candidate to face charges this week.
The state attorney general announced the indictment of Middlesex Borough Mayor Ronald DiMura on theft charges earlier this week. Yesterday, the state charged Jersey City School Board President Sudhan Thomas, former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, former Morris County Freeholder John Cesaro, former Mount Arlington Councilman John Windish, and former Morris County freeholder candidate Mary Dougherty with accepting bribes.