Former Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas took the stand in his federal trial on fraud charges yesterday, according to a report in the Asbury Park Press.
Lucas acknowledged that he had made “egregious errors” in his loan application for financing to purchase Burke Farm, a 97 acre parcel of which he later sold the development rights to the New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program for $1.16 million. The funding for the farmland preservation deal came from the taxpayers of Manalapan, Monmouth County and the State of New Jersey.
During his full day of testimony, Lucas explained that he made his errors in haste to get the loan funded before the lender, Central Jersey Bank, was acquired by Kearny Federal Saving Bank, not part of a complicated criminal scheme to defraud the lender who did not lose any money on the transaction.
Lucas explained that the discrepancies in his income tax returns for 2007 and 2008 he submitted to the bank were the result of adjustments made to the returns after an IRS audit which was completed two days after he was approved for the loan and to glitches in his tax preparation software. He said he did not disclose the changes in his tax returns to the bank, as required, because he “did not read the fine print.”
Lucas created a company called VLM Investments and used $250,000 that his friend Bobby Jaworksi invested in the company as the downpayment of the Burke Farm property. Lucas testified that he did not disclose the source of the downpayment to his lender because the disclosed funding from a reverse mortgage on his grandmother’s house and rougly $100,000 from her gold and silver thimble collection “was still there at anytime” if he needed it.
Lucas is expected to continue his testimony today.