Ex-mayor could face more charges

By carolyn o

Ex-mayor could
face more charges
By carolyn o’connell
Staff Writer

Officials say the investigation of former Ocean Township Mayor Terrance D. Weldon, leading to his plea of guilt in extorting $64,000 from land developers, is just the beginning of their crackdown efforts in the area.

"Mr. Weldon put on a show for many years," said U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie. "He posed as a fine public servant, when in fact he was serving himself, rigging the system for developers and making a mockery of the government of Ocean Township.

"I can assure the public that the investigation of official corruption in Monmouth County and our entire state is far from over," he said.

In federal court in Newark before Judge William H. Walls on Oct. 10, Weldon pleaded guilty without being indicted to extorting money from three developers. Those developers were not identified by name in court papers, but the description of each project made it possible to determine who the developers are.

The project identified in court papers as Developer No. 1 is Apple Farm Development LLC, a project planned for an 81.5-acre parcel located between West Park Avenue and Green Grove Road.

As laid out in court documents, the developer sought a zoning change to increase the number of homes that could be built on the property and to build them in a cluster.

In that matter, Weldon pleaded guilty taking $50,000 from one of the principals of Apple Farm, Michael Gohar, in return for the requested zoning change, which increased the number of units that could be built from 30 to 75.

Weldon also pleaded guilty to taking $9,000 to amend site-plan approvals for a 328-unit development now known as Rolling Meadows, a gated adult community located on the northeast corner of Hope Road and West Park Avenue, identified in court papers as Developer No. 2.

The developer for that project is Continental Properties Inc., Woodbridge. Continental Properties purchased the project after its original approvals had been obtained.

Those approvals were granted when the property was owned by Meyer Gold, who brought the development proposal before the Planning Board after first getting a zoning change from the council to increase the number of houses that could be built.

The project identified in court papers as Developer No. 3 is a six-house subdivision on Mark Place in which Weldon pleaded guilty to taking $5,000 from a builder, George Disakias, who bought out the original builder. The original builder went bankrupt during construction and did not finish building the houses.

Weldon faces up to 60 years in jail for the crimes he has pleaded guilty to committing. The minimum sentence he could face is four years, according to Ralph Marra Jr., first assistant prosecutor.

He also faces fines of up to $250,000 for each offense and "is required to make full restitution for all losses resulting from the offense of conviction," according to his plea agreement.

Weldon also faces the possibility of losing the pension he earned as a career fireman in Asbury Park. He receives roughly $54,000 a year through the state Police and Firemen’s Retirement System.