Prosecutor: Former Housing Authority Director Gets 5 Years for Theft of More Than $90K

The former Executive Director of the Asbury Park Housing Authority has been sentenced to five years in prison for bilking the organization of more than $90,000 between 2008 and 2011, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said on Friday.

Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregrossa-O’Connor imposed the sentence upon Mark W. Holmes Sr., 56, of Lawrence Township in Mercer County. Holmes had also served as mayor and councilman of Lawrence.

As part of his sentence, Holmes was ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution for monies he had not reimbursed the Asbury Park Housing Authority (APHA) and to forfeit his government-funded pension as well as any future public employment in New Jersey.

Holmes had previously pleaded guilty on Jan. 9 before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge John R. Tassini to second-degree theft by unlawful taking.

An investigation conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that during his period of employment with the Housing Authority, Holmes stole more than $90,000 by diverting state grant funds and giving himself a $50,000 raise.

The case background …

Holmes was Executive Director of the Asbury Park Housing Authority (APHA) between December of 2008 and June of 2011. While serving as Deputy Director of the Authority, Holmes applied for and received a $99,897 grant award from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development which was intended to provide training in computers and other marketable skills for Asbury Park public housing residents.

Between November 2008 and August 2009, with Holmes serving as Executive Director, the APHA received more than $75,000 from the State as part of the Training Grant. Holmes transferred more than $58,000 of the funds to the APHA Community Development Corporation, an organization he created, and, rather than use the money for training purposes, Holmes used the money to fund a $50,000 salary increase for himself without APHA Board approval.

During the investigation, it was discovered that Holmes opened up credit cards in the name of the “APHA” and “APHA Community Development Corporation” and used the cards for personal expenses.  He changed the mailing addresses for the bills to go directly to his personal residence and racked up over $30,000 in debt. Holmes paid off most of this credit card debt prior to the investigation commencing.

The investigation also revealed that while serving as Executive Director for a two and a half year period, Holmes went on more than 30 business trips across the country. Prior to these trips, Holmes received over $22,000 in per diem payments from the APHA which were intended to cover meal expenses while away on business.

Upon his return, even though he had already received these monies, Holmes sought and received duplicate reimbursements from the APHA for meals for which he had already received the up-front per diem payments.

Holmes also used APHA funds for personal expenditures while on these trips, including spa treatments, hotel in-room movies, and gentlemen’s clubs.  On at least three occasions, he used APHA funds to pay for stretch limousine service to transport him and his family to and from the airport.  Holmes also used more than $13,000 of APHA funds for unauthorized meal expenses in the Asbury Park and Lawrenceville areas.

— Edited press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office