NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Michael Mahony, the city's chief housing inspector since 1994, was arrested Thursday morning by State Police and charged with possession and intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance .
Authorities say the raids that nabbed Mahony were part of a "larger investigation" that continues.
According to the Middlesex County Department of Corrections, Mahony spent one night at the county jail before he was released on $150,000 bail yesterday.
It appears that State Police were involved in the raids, which yielded approximately ten ounces of cocaine allegedly belonging to Mahony. According to sources, drugs were found in multiple locations including New Brunswick's Elks Lodge on Livingston Avenue.
Mahony was a regular at the Lodge and his city vehicle could be seen parked outside nearly every business day for an extended lunch break.
"The only thing I can tell you at this point is that the State Police activity in New Brunswick the other day is apart of an ongoing larger investigation," said State Police Sgt. Adam Grossman.
Mahony, age 55, is a resident of Cleveland Avenue in Milltown, and has been a city employee for 19 years. During that time, his inspection department was frequently criticized for overzealous and selective enforcement.
MAYOR CAHILL SUSPENDS MAHONY WITHOUT PAY
Mahony's City Hall answering machine previously listed a very specific and limited set of hours when he could be reached. But that outgoing message has been changed since his arrest.
"You've reached the desk of Mike Mahony for the City of New Brunswick. It is Monday December 23th," says the voice, which does not appear to be Mahony's.
"Until further notice, any problems of questions? You can contact Inspector Cheri Miller… or Inspector Dominic Quagliatta… or the front desk."
Mayor Cahill's spokesman did not immediately return a phone message asking whether Mahony will keep his job, where he makes an annual salary of $54,066.
This afternoon, the city announced to other publications that Mahony was suspended without pay.
"The City has been involved in a long term investigation, at the beginning of which, Police Director Anthony Caputo advised me could be far-reaching and have significant and serious implications," said Mayor Cahill in a statement released to New Brunswick Patch.
"At that time, Director Caputo requested additional resources and reallocation of police personnel. That request was granted without reservation or restriction," said Cahill.
The city website still lists Mahony as Chair of the Recreation Committee, as well in the Chief Housing Inspector job, and his contact information is still listed on the Recreation Dept.'s page as a coordinator of softball, volleyball, and adult basketball leagues.
Mahony picked up the phone at one of the lines listed on the Recreation website, but hung up when he learned the call was from a reporter.
FORMER CO-WORKER: INSPECTOR'S PROBLEMS PLAGUED CITY FOR YEARS
Martin Arocho, a former President of the city's Municipal Employees Association, said he regularly complained about Mahony to city officials, but that nothing was done.
Arocho worked under Mahony as a housing inspector for years and described his behavior as "happy one day and angry the next."
Before his time as union president, the MEA had written a letter to New Brunswick's Business Administrator Tom Loughlin asking for Mahony to enter into counseling.
Although he continued to complain about Mahony during and after his presidency, the concerns fell on deaf ears, Arocho said.
Arocho told New Brunswick Today that towards the end of his career as a housing inspector, he became a target of Mahony's aggression and that officials gave Mahony a minimal punishment after he shoved Arocho on the job.
"Usually if an employee gets in a fight, they are fired" said Arocho, adding that Mahony served a five-day suspension for the shoving incident, but was permitted to work for all five days.
UPDATE (12/23): This article has been updated to reflect updated information from the Middlesex County Jail about the charges against Michael Mahony.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.