TRENTON — “The depression made him do it,” was the mitigating circumstance former Hamilton Township Mayor Bencivengo’s defense attorney offered, in the hopes of reducing the disgraced leader’s sentencing at a hearing held on Wednesday.
Defense lawyer, Jerome Ballarotto, initiated an importune examination of a criminal forensic psychologist, whose research into Bencivengo’s psyche deduced that the mayor was clinically depressed years before and severely depressed during his reign at the head of the township. “He was so severely depressed he was distracted and could not comprehend the ramifications of his actions,” said Criminal Forensic Psychologist Dr. Gerard Cooke while on the stand during the sentencing hearing.
The fallen politician, who was found guilty in November of accepting $12,400 worth of bribes in exchange for his official influence, was painted by his attorney as a victim who suffered from a debilitating disease.
According to the doctor’s testimony, Bencivengo was diagnosed by his primary care physician, in 2001, as depressed. His deep despair and symptoms worsened when he began to incur marital problems with his wife of over 30 years. The depression became even more severe when he began dating and then consequently broke up with a woman 30 years his junior.
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Attorney: Bencivengo’s depression incapacitated him