- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A longtime municipal official in southern New Jersey has admitted using his official positions to profit on a proposed land deal that authorities say essentially netted him a free farm.

State authorities say Lawrence Durr filed fraudulent ethics disclosure forms that didn’t mention his financial relationship to a developer. The 66-year-old Chesterfield man pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to tamper with public records.

Durr also agreed to forfeit $250,000 to the state. In return for his plea, prosecutors will recommend that he receive a 364-day county jail term and four years of probation when he’s sentenced June 17. The jail term would be suspended if Durr successfully completes his probation.

Durr, a Republican, was a longtime committeeman, mayor and planning board member in Chesterfield. Authorities said he secretly agreed to sell transfer development rights from a 104-acre farm to a developer and used his official positions to advance the firm’s project.

Durr paid $2 million to buy the farm in 2006, then received $2.3 million after selling the transfer development rights for a prearranged price. The Republican mayor “effectively obtained the farm for free and turned an extra profit of $372,500, authorities said.

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