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Hamilton Township mayor seeks to reassure residents after Mizpah firefighter arrests

Hamilton Township mayor seeks to reassure residents after Mizpah firefighter arrests

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HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Mayor Art Schenker wants residents to maintain their faith in the township’s firefighters in the wake of two arrests made this week at the Mizpah Volunteer Fire Company.

Mizpah fire Chief Jay Davenport II and firefighter Craig Paxton were charged with official misconduct, conspiracy and theft, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said Thursday. The investigation was connected to allegations of the creation of one or more unauthorized accounts at NAPA Auto Parts, using the fire company’s funds and tax-exempt status, authorities said.

“I do not want the alleged actions of a few to tarnish the reputations of the many that volunteer their time and do a great job,” Schenker said in a statement about the township’s five volunteer companies.

“On behalf of the Township Committee, I want to thank the Township of Hamilton Volunteer Fire Departments for their commitment to the residents of our Township.”

Davenport and Paxton, both 38, were released on summonses, according to the Prosecutor’s Office. They are scheduled to appear in court Oct. 28.

In the meantime, the township has closed the Mizpah firehouse and voted to temporarily seize and secure township-owned vehicles, equipment and supplies, cease immediately all funding of the company and freeze all financial assets.

The township is investigating the fire company alongside the Prosecutor’s Office.

Township officials have said there will not be an interruption in service for residents during the time Mizpah is closed, citing the proximity of nearby fire companies. They also said they intend to keep the firehouse as a polling station on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Contact: 609-272-7202

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