Wildwood Mayor Peter J. Byron admitted he assisted in preparing fraudulent tax returns, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
He is now facing up to three years in prison and a fine.
The 67-year-old mayor pleaded guilty and was charged with two counts of willfully aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of fraudulent tax returns to the IRS for calendar years 2017 and 2018, officials say.
From January 2017 through December 2018, Byron served as a commissioner for the city of Wildwood. He was in charge of the revenue and finance departments.
Byron allegedly received an income of $40,425 while working as a salesman for a law firm located in Gloucester County from October 2017 through September 2018, the attorney’s office said. They claim he did not file that income with the IRS.
Byron of Wildwood, 67, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Karen M. Williams in Camden federal court to an information charging him with two counts of willfully aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of fraudulent tax returns to the IRS for calendar years 2017 and 2018.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Byron served as a commissioner for the city of Wildwood, in charge of the Revenue and Finance departments.
From June through August of 2017, Byron sent multiple emails to the managing partner of a law firm located in Gloucester County, seeking assistance in obtaining a job. Byron received a letter in October 2017 on the letterhead of the managing partner’s law firm which purported to set forth an employment offer to Byron from a company.
According to the terms of the October 2017 letter, Byron was to receive an annual salary from the company for working as a salesman.
From October 2017 through September 2018, Byron received $40,425 in payments from the company. He did not report this income on his tax returns for calendar years 2017 and 2018, resulting in a tax loss to the I.R.S.
The tax charges each carry a maximum potential sentence of three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross amount of any pecuniary gain that any persons derived from the offense, whichever is greater.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2, 2023.
Wildwood is governed by a three-member commission under the Walsh Act Commission form of municipal government.
The governing body is comprised of three commissioners, who are elected at-large on a nonpartisan basis to serve concurrent four-year terms of office, with the vote taking place as part of the November general election. At a reorganization conducted after each election, the commission selects one of its members to serve as mayor and gives each commissioner an assigned department to oversee and manage.
In addition to being mayor, Byron is the commissioner of Public Works, Parks and Public Property and his term of office was scheduled to end on December 31, 2023.
In June 2022, Byron and Commissioner Steven Mikulski, together with former Mayor Ernest Troiano, were all charged with unlawful taking and tampering with public records in a case in which it was alleged that they improperly declared that they worked full-time for the city so that they could collect health insurance from the city under the State Health Benefit Plan worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Attorney General Matthew Platkin, who announced those charges, said Byron, 67, a Democrat, and Troiano, 71, a Republican, were first elected as city commissioners in 2011.
Prosecutors said that the same year, they voted to pass a resolution declaring themselves as full-time employees working at least 35 hours each week.