Wildwood, NJ, Officials Indicted For Nearly $1M in Health Benefits Fraud
WILDWOOD — Three local officials in one of New Jersey's most popular shore towns have been indicted for defrauding the state of nearly $1 million in health benefits.
The state grand jury indictment was announced by Attorney General Matthew Platkin on Wednesday. It recommends 12 counts for Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron, Commissioner Steve Mikulski, and former Mayor Ernest Troiano Jr.
Authorities said the three officials took benefits from the State Health Benefits Program when they didn't qualify. All three have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
The fraud started in 2011 when Byron, a Democrat, and Troiano, a Republican, were first elected as commissioners, according to Platkin. Troiano was also sworn in as mayor.
That year, authorities said they passed a resolution declaring themselves full-time state employees who worked at least 35 hours per week. They're accused of then enrolling in the SHBP. Mikulski took office in 2020 and enrolled as well, according to Platkin.
"The investigation revealed that Byron, Troiano, and Mikulski were never eligible because they were never “full-time” employees as defined by state law," Platkin said in a statement. "They did not receive vacation, sick, or personal days, and maintained no regular schedule. It is alleged, however, that all three fraudulently enrolled in the SHBP and received publicly funded health benefits."
The statement from Platkin said Wildwood and the SHBP paid the following amounts in premiums and claims for each official:
⚫ Pete Byron — $608,900
⚫ Ernest Troiano — $286,500
⚫ Steve Mikulski — $103,000
The three men are accused of benefiting from a combined $998,400 in premiums and claims for which they did not qualify.