TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy will name Toms River criminal defense attorney Bradley D. Billhimer as the next Ocean County Prosecutor, according to a report by the New Jersey Globe.
Billhimer will replace Republican appointee Joseph D. Coronato as the county’s top law enforcement official, according to the report.
Under New Jersey’s system of government, county prosecutors are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the governor.
Murphy’s choice of Billhimer is also sinking the hopes of some local officials to save Mr. Coronato’s job. Earlier this year, some Ocean County GOP municipal and county officials unsuccessfully lobbied the Murphy administration to leave Coronato, who previously did work for local municipalities while in private practice, in place as the county prosecutor. Yesterday, in an NJ.com report, Coronato’s office was shaken by serious allegations made by the recently ousted former EAP Michael Paulhus in a tort claim.
Sources previously told OCP that Billhimer and Murphy were spotted having lunch in Toms River earlier this summer, before news of the nomination broke.
In early July, Heather Taylor, a records custodian from the governor’s office, denied a request made by this reporter under the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) for correspondence between the governor’s office and Billhimer concerning the nomination.