Wildwood, NJ mayor resigns suddenly amid criminal indictment
🎡 Pete Byron has resigned just months before his term was set to end
🎡 The Wildwood mayor faces state health benefits fraud charges
🎡 The state filed to remove him from office on Aug. 15, a report said
WILDWOOD — The mayor of this famous Jersey Shore resort city has suddenly resigned as he faces another legal battle.
Peter Byron, a Democrat, was first elected to the Wildwood Board of Commissioners in 2011. He was sworn in as mayor in 2020 and his term was set to end on Dec. 31, 2023.
But on Thursday, Byron resigned from his post effective immediately. Deputy Mayor Krista Fitzsimmons will take over his responsibilities.
"It is with deep sadness — yet great hope — for the continued prosperity of Wildwood, that I resign as Mayor of the City of Wildwood, NJ. I have held the honor and pleasure of serving my community as Commissioner for the past 12 years," Byron said in a statement. He said he would focus on being a dad and grandfather.
State AG files for Wildwood mayor to be removed from office
Byron's resignation comes around a month after the Office of the Attorney General filed a motion to remove him from public office. The motion was filed by the state Division of Criminal Justice in Mercer County Superior Court on Aug. 15, according to a published report.
He was sentenced on Aug. 2 to three years of probation and to pay over $7,000 in restitution and a $14,000 fine.
"The defendant has thus forfeited any public positions held by him as of March 24, 2023, the day he pleaded guilty," the state said in the motion.
Byron also faces a grand jury indictment on charges in connection to state health benefits fraud. Authorities said taxpayers paid $608,900 in premiums and claims for Byron when he was not qualified for state health benefits.
The mayor said to NBC 10 Philadelphia on Thursday said he would not plead guilty to the charges and called it a "waste of taxpayers' money."
As for the reason for his resignation, Byron said he was "tired of politics" to NBC 10 Philadelphia.
Wildwood mayor points to accomplishments in office
Mayor Byron pointed to several accomplishments while in office in the statement announcing his resignation.
They include the Pacific Avenue Redevelopment Project to revitalize a historic downtown district, the "Back Bay" Project landfill remediation, an $8 million boardwalk revitalization project, beach revenue growth, and refurbishments of city parks and the Byrne Recreation Center.
"Though I may not be at City Hall, I am still available to help with issues and will be happy to continue to assist my hometown of Wildwood in any way possible," Byron said.