Prosecutor investigating misuse in Princeton’s sewer division

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office is looking into allegations regarding the possible misuse of Princeton municipal property within the town’s Sewer Operating Division, according to Municipal Administrator Marc Dashield.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office was called in following allegations of dumping and improper use of town equipment and staff, according to a story online at Planet Princeton. Town employees and town-owned equipment had allegedly been observed at private job sites.

Princeton officials conducted an initial investigation and decided to refer the matter to the Prosecutor’s Office, Dashield said.

“We take any and all allegations of misconduct seriously and will support Mercer County with any assistance they need,” Dashield said.

It has been alleged that several private contractors have dumped dirt and asphalt at the River Road Convenience Center, and also used it as a source of cheap equipment and labor, according to Planet Princeton.

A driver admitted that dirt he was dumping at the River Road Convenience Center had come from the Mary Moss Park playground renovation work on the corner of John and Lytle streets, and while it is the contractor’s responsibility to get rid of the dirt, several truckloads of dirt were dropped off in exchange for a payment of $75 in cash per load, according to Planet Princeton.

Also, a contractor who had the keys to the gate at the River Road facility opened the gate, loaded up a truck with stone purchased by the town and then used it in connection with a private – not municipally-related – job, according to Planet Princeton.

Some municipal employees have claimed that they were sent out to perform work for contractors that is not typically done by municipal sewer department employees for private contractors and residents, according to Planet Princeton.

One instance involved the use of a $300,000 jet truck, which was used to help a contractor install new sewer lines between the curb and a house, according to Planet Princeton. Dashield, however, said the jet truck is sometimes used to clear sewer laterals to relieve sewer backups into residential homes. This service is extended to all residents, he said.