Saturday, April 30, 2005

Longest Serving New Jersey Freeholder Charged with Accepting Bribes

Harry Larrison, Jr., whose 39 years as a Monmouth County Freeholder (the county's governing board) made him the longest serving Freeholder in New Jersey, was charged with accepting at least $8,500 from developers doing work in Monmouth County.  Larrison began in public service in 1956, and was appointed a Freeholder in 1966.  He retired last December, and an article in the Atlantic Highlands Herald (here) about his service described his accomplishments:

Over the years Freeholder Larrison has played a crucial role in the progressive development of county government in Monmouth County, including an award-winning county park system, the finest and largest library system in New Jersey, Brookdale Community College, and the Monmouth County Vocational School System; each facility recognized in its respective field as a preeminent county institution in our state.

Freeholder Larrison is considered a visionary. In the early 1970's he foresaw the coming crisis in the area of solid waste disposal and championed the development of a county-owned and operated landfill in Monmouth County. With the opening of the Reclamation Center in Tinton Falls, Monmouth County was assured of a safe, cost-effective method of handling its solid waste for years to come. The County’s state-of-the art facility has helped improve the environment and spawned the development of recycling programs that have become the model for other counties in New Jersey.

A press release (here) from the U.S. Attorney's Office, which has conducted a wide-ranging corruption probe in Monmouth County (earlier post here), described the charge as follows:

Larrison allegedly accepted $5,000 in cash in 2001 or 2002 from a Monmouth County official who received the money from a developer on Larrison's behalf. According to the criminal complaint, Larrison wanted to take a trip to Florida and sent the county official - identified in the complaint as someone holding an administrative position in Monmouth County government - to meet with the developer at an establishment in South Amboy. There, the developer removed the cash from a safe and gave it to the county official, who, in turn, delivered it to Larrison at Larrison's home, whereupon Larrison gave $1,500 of the cash to this county official. The $5,000 payment was in exchange for Larrison's official assistance in connection with the developer's various projects in Monmouth County, according to the complaint.

Recordings and statements of the Monmouth County official, one of the developers and Larrison himself provided the basis for the criminal complaint. Larrison received another cash payment of $3,500 from a second developer in 2002 or 2003, according to the complaint. The cash, which was supposed to be part of a $5,000 bribe payment, was delivered to his home by the same Monmouth County official who delivered the earlier $5,000 payment.

Unfortunately for Larrison, his legacy is now tainted by his corruption with a charge of violating 18 U.S.C. Sec. 666.  The criminal complaint is here.(ph)

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