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Lumberton Mayor Ryan Tuno. (Photo: Facebook)

Tuno censured over Labor Day weekend police incident, sources say

Sources say Lumberton Mayor sought to spike records requests to hide alleged abuse of position

By Nikita Biryukov, October 02 2020 3:43 pm

Lumberton Mayor Ryan Tuno’s censure came after a Labor Day weekend incident with the police the Democrat allegedly attempted to use his position as mayor and the town’s police and municipal court liaison to have the event buried, Lumberton sources with knowledge of the situation told the New Jersey Globe.

On Thursday, Lumberton’s Township Committee censured Tuno and stripped him of his liaison position at a committee meeting Thursday night.

They also referred the matter to the State Ethics Board.

Sources told the Globe Tuno stepped in after individuals filed records requests seeking information on the incident under the Open Public Records Act.

Tuno, the sources say, told Township Administrator Brandon Umba to spike the requests, leading Umba to file a whistleblower complaint against the mayor.

Umba did not immediately respond to a 3:21 p.m. call seeking comment.

The resolutions passed by the committee do little to shed light on the incident, though the censure resolution said certain municipal employees raised concerns with the committee over unspecified statements Tuno allegedly made.

The committee’s four other members voted yes on all three resolutions. Tuno voted against the censure and the resolution deposing him as police liaison. He was not permitted to vote on the resolution forwarding the matter to the State Ethics Board

Democrats hold a narrow  3-2 majority on Lumberton’s township committee after Committeewoman Rue Ryan ousted incumbent Republican Kristin Januseki.

Committeemen James Dwyer and Sean Earlen, who is Burlington County Republican chairman, are up for re-election this year. They face former Assembly candidate Gina LaPlaca and Terrence Benson, who unsuccessfully sought a seat on the Township Committee in 2016.

Earlen is not seeking another term. Republican Mark Miller is running for his seat.

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