The Republican candidate for Passaic County sheriff filed for bankruptcy in 2016 after falling more than $850,000 in debt, including unpaid taxes.
Mason J. Maher III, a Paterson police detective lieutenant who is challenging four-term incumbent Richard Berdnik, owed money to 27 different creditors, including five mortgages and loans on two Cadillac Escalades, along with $120,365 in credit card debt, court records show.
He owed $9,618 in unpaid federal and state income taxes.
The debt comes despite he and his wife, Jennifer reporting a combined annual income of over $193,000. They listed their total monthly expenses as $10,557 and assets of $658,825.
Maher’s personal financial problems stemmed from a losses at a Hackensack nail salon owned by his wife.
“Like a lot of families who own small businesses, he and his wife ran into some tough times, but they pulled themselves out of it and even repaid their debts early,” said Chris Russell, a spokesman for Maher. “This kind of personal smear won’t stick.”
His creditors included the Paterson Police Federal Credit Union.
In 2017, Maher received a $250,000 settlement for injuries he sustained in a car accident. He was permitted to retain $23,675 of that, with $133,304 used to pay down his debs and $97,503 for his attorney and fees for bankruptcy trustees.
A settlement agreement was filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 2018,
His wife filed a lawsuit against Northland Group, Inc. in 2017 alleging unlawful debt collection practices connected to one of her credit cards. She was awarded a settlement of $230,000.
Maher heads an all-law enforcement GOP countywide ticket that includes former Paterson Police Chief Troy Oswald and Paterson PBA president Alex Cruz.
Republicans won a Passaic county commissioner seat in 2021 for the first time since 2009 and came close to electing two other county commissioners and surrogate.
This year, the race for sheriff and county commissioner – longtime incumbents Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore are seeking re-election – are potentially winnable for Republicans.
A win by Republicans this year would position the GOP to compete for control of county government in 2023. Democrats have held the majority since 2001.
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