TOMS RIVER−A code enforcement and zoning officer for Beachwood has been accused of using his office for personal gain and working for different municipalities during the same hours, authorities said.
Michael Ruvo, 56, of Toms River, was charged with official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said in a statement.
Detectives from the Professional Standards Unit-Economic Crime Squad at the prosecutor’s office found that Ruvo engaged in illegal transactions, Billhimer said.
He worked for Beachwood from September 2018 through March, conducting inspections to ensure compliance with municipal ordinances, handling legal cases against violators and signing off on certificates of occupancy in order for people to occupy a home.
In April 2022, Ruvo created a limited liability company to surreptitiously buy a property on Surf Avenue in Beachwood that had code violations, Billhimer said. Ruvo claimed to be arranging the sale for a third party who didn’t want their identity revealed and failed to inform the person who held power of attorney for the property owner that Ruvo himself was the purchaser, Billhimer said.
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Ruvo closed on the property in July 2022, buying it for $80,000, although it was appraised at over $200,000, Billhimer said.
In June 2022, Ruvo issued a code enforcement violation to a property owner on Tiller Avenue who received an estimate to fix the problems but asked for an extension.
Ruvo told the woman that he knew a company that could provide the service cheaper, Billhimer said.
The recommended company, Express Cleanout, was owned by Ruvo, but he did not tell the property owner that, Billhimer said.
Ruvo’s company did not complete the job, but he deemed the property to be in compliance nonetheless, Billhimer said.
The investigation also showed that Ruvo, who also worked as a code enforcement officer for both Lavallette and Point Pleasant Beach, billed the two boroughs for a total of 150 hours that coincided with times he was on the clock working for Beachwood, as timesheets showed, Billhimer said.
Ruvo worked for Point Pleasant Beach for about six months in 2021 and Lavallette for about seven months until March.
Ronald F. Roma Jr., the mayor of Beachwood, said the borough has fully cooperated with the investigation.
“I as well as the entire governing body are deeply saddened and disappointed by the allegations against Mr. Ruvo.,” Roma said in a text message, adding that the borough is advising anyone with any information or concerns about Ruvo to contact the prosecutor’s office.
Roma said Ruvo resigned shortly after the investigation began.
Ruvo surrendered to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday accompanied by his attorney, whose name was not immediately available. He was released on a summons.
Billhimer is urging anyone with information on Ruvo with regard to his work as a code enforcement and zoning official to call Sgt. Raymond Gardner of the Economic Crime Squad of the prosecutor’s office at (732) 929-2027, Ext. 3908.
Ken Serrano covers crime, breaking news and investigations. Reach him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Code enforcement official from Beachwood NJ charged with misconduct