Public Notices and Press Releases

South Jersey Transportation Authority Board Members Charged in Political Retaliation Case

Vice Chairman Christopher Milam and Commissioner Bryan Bush face misconduct and perjury charges in ongoing corruption investigation

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced on June 14, 2024, that criminal charges had been filed against two South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) Board members, Vice Chairman Christopher Milam and Commissioner Bryan Bush, for allegedly withholding payments to an engineering firm as political retribution. The charges stem from a feud involving a South Jersey Democratic Party leader and a Mercer County Commissioner.

Key Details:

  • Who: Vice Chairman Christopher Milam, 45, and Board Commissioner Bryan Bush, 52, both from Sewell, NJ.
  • What: Charged with official misconduct (2nd degree), conspiracy to commit official misconduct (2nd degree), and perjury (3rd degree).
  • When: Alleged actions took place in 2023, with charges announced on June 14, 2024.
  • Where: South Jersey, involving SJTA Board meetings.
  • Why: Alleged political retaliation linked to a feud between South Jersey Democratic Party leadership and a Mercer County Commissioner.
  • How: Unlawful conspiracy to block payments to a civil engineering firm, leading to accumulated unpaid invoices.

The evidence revealed that these defendants misused the power they held as members of the SJTA Board to exact revenge on this particular firm and one of its staff members,” said Drew Skinner, Executive Director of OPIA. Their subsequent attempts to offer seemingly legitimate, but allegedly fictional, reasons for voting against the payments represents a further violation of the public trust."

As this investigation continues, today we are sending a clear message: No matter how connected or powerful you are, if there is evidence suggesting that you have used your position and taxpayer dollars for political retribution or gain, we will hold you accountable,” said Attorney General Platkin. “And if you lie to a grand jury, as alleged here, to cover up your conduct, you will answer for that, too. For people to have trust in government, they cannot feel that the well-off and well-connected play by a different set of rules than everyone else. The law cannot treat people differently. My office will continue to hold powerful people and powerful institutions accountable.

The Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) found that Milam and Bush conspired to prevent payment of invoices submitted by the engineering firm for completed work, casting illegitimate votes during three SJTA Board meetings. These votes were allegedly influenced by a political dispute and retaliatory motives, rather than legitimate concerns.

Evidence includes a text message from Milam to Bush on February 8, 2023, stating, “They cut South Jersey in Mercer County so now we vote no.” This message allegedly indicates the true motive behind their votes. Despite claims of various issues with the firm, the investigation suggests these concerns were fabricated post-factum to justify their actions.

Both officials are also accused of perjury for providing false testimony to a state grand jury in March 2024, falsely claiming their votes were based on issues with the engineering firm's performance.

The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information is urged to contact OPIA at 1-844-OPIA-TIP (1-844-674-2847) or submit tips anonymously via the OPIA Report Corruption Form.

Legal Implications:

  • Second-degree charges: 5 to 10 years in state prison, up to $150,000 fine, with a mandatory minimum term of five years without parole for official misconduct.
  • Third-degree charges: 3 to 5 years in prison, up to $15,000 fine.

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Attorneys General Michael Grillo and Amanda Nini, under the supervision of OPIA officials.

The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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