Leader of Toms River GOP, MUA Doesn’t Actually Live in Toms River

TOMS RIVER / SEASIDE PARK, N.J.  –  Juan C. Bellu, chairman of the Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority and Toms River Republican Club Board of Trustees does not actually reside in Toms River, public records confirmed.

The residency of the de facto leader of the Toms River Republican organization continues to be a sore point among rank-and-file Republicans in the River City. While it has sometimes even become a joke at campaign events, many inside the township’s dominant political party have been left scratching their heads over the fact that their organization’s leader does not actually live in their town, and consequentially does not have to live under the decisions he makes as an MUA commissioner.

Bellu’s residency has been well-known among those on the inside of the tangled web that is Toms River politics, but the issues surrounding Bellu were never publicized due to fears of retribution from GOP higher-ups.

More Bellu Baloney?

Mr. Bellu, a known patronage beneficiary, is best remembered as the former assistant business administrator hired in the waning days of the Acropolis administration in Brick in 2008. In that role, Bellu eventually earned $156,824 per year. Two years after Bellu was hired in Brick, former mayor Stephen Acropolis was hired as the new executive director of the Toms River MUA, leading some to allege a quid-pro-quo relationship between the two Republican officials.

Steve Acropolis

Steve Acropolis

At the time Bellu submitted his job application to Brick, he had just one reference, Mayor Acropolis. Bellu was later fired from his job in Brick after Acropolis chose not to seek reelection and Democrat Mayor John Ducey’s team took over.

During the legal battle that ensued over the firing of Bellu, Brick lawyers claimed that Bellu lied about having a bachelor of science degree from Montclair State University as listed on his application, and that Acropolis created a sham civil service job title to protect Bellu from being fired, despite him not being qualified for the job he was given in the first place. Both sides eventually signed a release agreement that ended the fight, with both sides dropping the case before the state Civil Service Commission.

Bella's job application

Bellu’s job application

Bellu also saw his daughter-in-law added to the TRMUA’s payroll. Kelly Bellu – who is now on extended leave without pay – is the daughter of Toms River councilman Jeff Carr.

All Of Bellu’s Toms River Homes Have Been Sold, Records Show

Mr. Bellu previously had lived in Toms River, but public records show that all of Bellu’s previous Toms River residences have been sold. Bellu and his wife Amy previously resided at 1704 New Hampshire Avenue, but Ocean County Clerk’s Office records show that the home was sold in 2013.

In May of 2013, Bellu and his wife sold the New Hampshire Ave. home for $376,000 to Steven Cherecwich. It should be noted that this deed was prepared by James Gluck, who represented Bellu in the transaction. Gluck is the same lawyer appointed to represent the Toms River MUA, which Bellu chairs. Gluck also represented Bellu in land deals with jailed former Toms River Schools Superintendent Michael Ritacco, who sold then-vacant land near the New Hampshire Ave. home to Bellu in 2003, while Gilmore partner Tom Monahan represented Ritacco.

After selling their Toms River home, Bellu and his wife Amy purchased their current home in Seaside Park in September of 2013 for the sum of $470,000, according to the deed.

The latest financial disclosure form filed by Bellu had a few giveaways that demonstrate Bellu does not actually reside in Toms River. First, he lists his “home address” as a P.O. Box. Secondly, the only residential property listed on his disclosure form that is owned by Bellu is located in the Borough of Seaside Park, not Toms River. Lastly, a check of Toms River MUA account records revealed that Mr. Bellu does not currently have a water / sewer account with the MUA.

The disclosure form

The disclosure form

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs did not immediately respond to an inquiry as to whether using a P.O. box as a “home address” for the purpose of local government financial disclosure was permissible under the New Jersey Local Government Ethics Law.

Additionally, state voter registration records indicated that as of the publication of this article, Bellu has not updated his voter registration since 1981, when he first moved to Toms River, despite multiple changes in his residence since then.

As Chairman Of TR GOP Board Of Trustees, Bellu Has The Real Power

Rick Clement

Rick Clement

Juan Bellu

Juan Bellu

Actions previously taken by deceased former Toms River GOP patriarch Rick Clement – whose wife Deborah Clement is currently a TRMUA commissioner – saw the bylaws of the Toms River Republican Club reshuffled to have most of the power within the organization go to the chairman of the club’s board of trustees, not the club president, a maneuver that originally served to solidify Clement’s power. Mr. Bellu is the current beneficiary of that move, since he currently holds that title in addition to heading up the TRMUA board of commissioners.

In addition to state law being silent on whether appointed MUA commissioners must actually live in the towns that they serve, Toms River Township Clerk J. Mark Mutter said in response to an Open Public Records Act request that no policy exists in the township. However, unlike MUA commissioners, a copy of the Toms River Republican Club’s bylaws obtained by Ocean County Politics indicates that regular, voting members of the club as well as club officers must be residents of Toms River, which Bellu does not appear to be.

Mutter also confirmed that Bellu did not submit a resume to the township council when originally appointed to the MUA.

Republican sources told OCP that multiple members of the club have complained to GOP leaders including Mayor Tom Kelaher, but nothing seems to be getting done about the issues surrounding the organization’s de facto head.

Rep. MacArthur

Rep. MacArthur

Kevin Geoghegan

Kevin Geoghegan

Accusations surrounding residency have sunk the political prospects of others, such as former Stafford Township Mayor John McMenamin, and they even dogged CD3 Rep. Tom MacArthur as he faced opponents including Toms River Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill and perennial candidate Steve Lonegan, but like MacArthur, questions surrounding Bellu’s residency have yet to stop him.

In 2014, Mr. Bellu was even named to the “Small Business Leaders For MacArthur” list released by the MacArthur campaign.

This year, campaign finance records showed Bellu as being the chair of newly appointed Councilman Kevin Geoghegan’s first reelection campaign, with Bellu’s business partner Carmen Memoli listed as the campaign’s treasurer. The Bellu Memoli accounting firm receives just one public contract, with Mr. Bellu being listed as the Jackson Township Rent Leveling Board’s accountant.

OCP Poll:

[poll id=”14″]

Gavin Rozzi

Gavin Rozzi is the editor of Ocean County Politics and a lifelong Ocean County resident, residing in Lacey Township. Gavin's work centers on the intersection of money and politics in Ocean County, with a focus on public corruption. In 2017 he created New Jersey's first statewide freedom of information portal, OPRAmachine.com. He can be reached via email at editor@politicsoc.com or via phone at (732)-504-3636 ext. 1 or on encrypted phone / text app Signal.

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77 Responses

  1. Lakewood and Out says:

    So the fact that he, his former Brick Boss and Ex Mayor, his current business partner of his accounting firm, whom is his Vice Chair , hire Toms River Council family members and also their own family members void his tenure , in addition, he is also the President of the local Toms River Org. None of this makes any sense. The Toms River Rep org…………… in addition to the Toms River MUA…………. cannot find anyone to run those two organizations, that actually live in Toms River? This story is ridiculous, inmates running the asylum . Carr has two other family members on the TRMUA payroll. I am sure there is more on the payroll.

    • laceylady says:

      The rats are all gnawing on the same huge chunk of “government cheese”! This is revolting.

      • Ken says:

        I am guessing he lived in Toms River prior to being appointed to the Toms River MUA, your article does not state if he was on the on the MUA before moving, I don’t think. , but I gotta tell you it takes a big set of you know what, to be the Chairman of that organization run the show with his former boss , and not live in the same town. Or maybe I’m just cracked out crazy.

      • guestofall says:

        What is the big deal here? No one cares what these guys do, who they hire, what boards they are on. Why don’t you all get it?

        • laceylady says:

          WE the taxpayers care, and so should you! Why wouldn’t you care and why do you choose to look the other way, unless you are somehow benefiting from this???

      • Toddy says:

        Rats indeed.

  2. G.O. Tomkin says:

    If I am reading the article correctly, Toms River Councilman Jeff Carr’s daughter: is the daughter- in- law of the current Chairman of the Toms River MUA: hence then Mr Carr appointed Mr Bellu at some point. Say what? What other hires have fallen under the radar before OCP fired up the web-site again?

    • Gavin Rozzi says:

      You are reading that correctly. But who knows, maybe Councilman Carr abstained due to the perceived conflict of interest? A “nonpartisan” Manchester Councilman is married to the daughter of Senator Chris Connors and he always abstains for the bills to CC’s law firm because of who he’s married to, so maybe Carr would follow the same line of reasoning with his daughter. We’d have to check the roll call vote on the resolutions to know for certain whether he voted for the appointment or not. And while we’re on this topic, I’ll respond to another commenter’s question about Bellu’s appointment, Bellu was indeed appointed to the MUA while a resident years ago, but has not been a resident since he sold the home in TR and bought the one in Seaside Park. I also went to a Toms River Township Council meeting one day and noticed there were a lot of abstentions to various vendors when it came time to approve that meeting’s bill list, so there’s already potential conflicts of interest all over the place due to campaign donations. To your point about previous unqualified hires, I am certain that we have had a lot of unqualified people added to the payroll. I used to only write about Lacey over at one of my other sites similar to OCP, and what I found at the public entities there was business as usual for Ocean County. Lots of political cronies, cousins and in-laws of politicians on the take, getting jobs they aren’t qualified for all over the place.

      • guest says:

        So basically you are saying that chairman Balu abstain when they hired his daughter-in-law @ the MUA ? I agree, a little more digging you will find many more hires over there related to those in power. On the matter of him running the Toms River Republican Club, if in fact that the mayor, Council and leaders of the Republican Club knew that he was not Toms River resident and didn’t care, just makes the matters worse.

      • Gladys says:

        Yes, I agree I’m sure it happens throughout Ocean County. But from what I hear Toms River town hall, the TRMUA and the OCUA are hotbeds of crony hiring.

      • guest says:

        Is it Carr’s daughter or Ballus daughter that works/worked at this authority?

        • Gavin Rozzi says:

          It’s actually Councilman Al Manforti’s daughter working there currently. Juan Bellu the 2nd’s wife Kelly Bellu, Councilman Carr’s daughter, was working there too until she went on unpaid leave as of the July meeting.

          • Cuddy says:

            I see the “Out of Towner” has made the 10 worst list…btw..keep looking there are more choice hires there..

          • Gavin Rozzi says:

            Here, I can do you one better. This is the entire payroll of the TRMUA as of the date I requested it… Recognize any names?

          • Roundabout says:

            Another Carr family member, Schlacther.

          • Doris says:

            Took a quick look at the list. Is that our esteemed Toms River DPW Directors family member that is the Chairmans Exec Assistant?

          • Cuddy says:

            Wrong…… it would be the Toms River Deputy DPW director and she is the executive assistant to the MUA executive director. Close but no cigar.

          • Guest says:

            Mr. Acropolis ‘s son works there and was recently promoted…..as does his daughter who took over for Bellu’s daughter in law. .

          • Cuddy says:

            Wait are you saying that executive director Acropolis…. daughter just took over the job that Chairman Bellus daughter just left?

          • Guest says:

            Yes….she handles payroll and days off for her brother and others. ..

          • Sammy says:

            Not questioning your honesty. I looked at this authority’s website’s minutes 2016, and the list of employee’s provided on this site. I do not see any mention of the hire in question here.

          • Gavin Rozzi says:

            Perhaps she was married and therefore no longer has the Acropolis name as of the date she was hied? A lot of nepotism hires slip through that way, from what I have seen.

          • guest says:

            After reading about all this, I don’t know whether to laugh or get upset that this goes on. That puts a new spin on nepotism.

          • Bob long says:

            She is married and has changed her last name. You won’t see her name on the minutes nor is her salary posted. She now heads the Human Resources dept.This information can be found with a simple phone call.

          • Sammy says:

            I think you jest there buckaroo.

          • RC1956 says:

            Bob Long on pinnochios and short on facts

          • guest says:

            So ::::you are saying, that the Executive director does not have 3 family members working at the same Authority. Including himself, his daughter, and his son?

          • Holly says:

            One can only wonder what just that Triple Play is costing the taxpayers of Toms River just at this one Municipal agency.

          • Gavin Rozzi says:

            Sadly, that’s not even the worst one, Holly. Got a lot of news tips this week about relatives of politicians that got jobs at various Ocean County and municipal governmental agencies. It’s mindblowing. I’m shocked, but obviously not surprised given what we’ve already seen.

          • Colin Newkirk says:

            He hit the Trifecta!

          • Cuddy says:

            Stop; its just a coinkidink that Councilman Carr’s daughter and MUA Chairperson Bellu’s Daughter- In -Law takes a leave of absence, then the Executive Directors daughter is now working at the MUA. Things that make you go Hmmm?

          • Gurdt says:

            His brother works at the Ocean County utilities authority also.

          • Beach blanket says:

            Well from what I can see there’s no election in Toms River this year, but I am sure next year when they have one, the opposing side will use some of this as fodder against the reigning Republicans?

          • guest says:

            LMFAO and that will do what? Nada, nothing. No change whatsoever.

          • Dover blvd says:

            They actually do have an election this year , albeit meaningless, I think the R guy is running unopposed. The Republicans will win by a huge margin. I think they have more at stake next year.

          • Old Timer says:

            I have to agree with your post. So, the tag team from Brick now parked their circus tent over at a Toms River Authority. Got to give prop’s to the E. Director, it take’s a set of you know what. To have yourself, son and now from reading these posts. daughter all work with under the same roof. From other posts here, it shares a litany of who’s who in the Council world’s hiring there. Sounds like they are even one up on Hudson County’s older days.

          • Twinbrook says:

            Jack lemmon

  3. Howard says:

    Leave it to Gavin and PoliticsOc for credible, solid reporting and single handed cleansing of the ocean county filth

  4. Nancy says:

    Just watched your video’s. It seems Mr Bellu was not present at the last MUA meeting. The other half of Bellumemoli was running the meeting sitting in as Vice Chair.. Interested to see if he shows up to run the July 2016 meeting, I am thinking it may be interesting fodder.

    • Gavin Rozzi says:

      I was very disappointed that he wasn’t there, since the entire point of me bringing my camera gear was to be able to ask him some questions during the public comment portion. Executive Director Acropolis said that Bellu was at a graduation of some sort.

  5. 1986 says:

    So a few articles ago about the former Toms River Mayor, a poster mentioned a break, split or what have you in the Toms River GOP club. Well one would think that at the very least. A bit of confusion? Dazed and confused maybe be fitting.Where is the hen house Mr Fox.

    • Polish says:

      One would imagine if they need someone that lives in another town to run their club. One would assume there are problems within. The again, who cares? These folks only concern is where they can place themselves and family members around town in jobs.

  6. TRWatch says:

    You left out the, almost, $215,000.00 in federal tax liens filed against Juan Bellu and Associates.

  7. Cuddy says:

    Say what? What is this town coming too? Should I drop my water bill off in Seaside next time?

  8. TRWatch says:

    Memoli is another financial wizard in Ocean County. TD Bank has a judgement against him for $580,500.00.

  9. Guest says:

    Well Stan, that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.

  10. Polite Vteck. says:

    On the Toms River GOP club, “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members” Nuff said,

  11. Paul E .D says:

    Probably a stupid question, how did mr. Ballu get this job at the MUA, did he get appointed , elected or hired. Also who does the hiring, or appointments or whatever it is.

  12. Tom says:

    Your pole respectively shows 90% of the people voting think that those Commissioners on the Toms River mua indeed should live in Toms River. However mind you 10% or approximately twenty votes said they do not have to. So I guess you have to count the officers and trustees of the Toms River Republican Club , that may account for the 20 votes.

  13. USAFWX says:

    To suggest the MUA Commissioners should live in the municipality that they work in is like suggesting the municipal school administrators should live in the municipality they work in.

    • Glenn says:

      I somewhat agree with you on that matter, however what are your thoughts on someone that is in charge of the Toms River Republican Club, who does not live in Toms River? I think that is really an issue however it’s a private organization and I guess they could do whatever they want.

    • guest says:

      Ok Commissioner.

    • HCD says:

      I think some of this is more directed toward the sheer arrogance of these leaders. Not really that he does not live in Toms River. He, as the leader of the TRMUA with his former boss from Brick, is also running the Toms River Rep club. I think more of this article could be directed at the flippant way they hire their own family members and family members of the Council that appoint them. In my opinion, someone that is leading the Toms River Repub. Org. should at the very least, live there. There has to be reasons, we will never know as to why they have a non- resident running both organizations. But, hey what do I know, I am a retired factory worker living in Holiday City.

  14. Sammy says:

    I guess the question I have after reading this article and watching the videos is. Does anyone have any idea at all as to why the largest town in OC, with the largest Republican Club would need to have a man who neither lives in the town, or can vote in the town. Run their local Republican Club and also run their local Municipal Utilities Authority. It just seems odd that they cannot muster up any one else to do this.

  15. Causeway 72 says:

    LMFAO.Just read this nonsense, so Mr Bellu and the former Brick Mayor took their show over to the Toms River MUA, splendid.

  16. Frank Rizzo says:

    Job well done….the media is in bed with these scoundrels and not reporting this

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