MAGA Feud in Central New Jersey Ends in Local Official’s Arrest

An amateur sting operation in a bitter feud between Republicans in a small town in central New Jersey has now resulted in the arrest of a local councilman.

The hustle, reports the New Jersey Globe, was organized and planned by a growing cohort of MAGA Republicans in Readington Township. Frustrated by the increasingly routine disappearances of their political placards, they decided to plant six repurposed boards from the district’s 2022 House race as bait, pinning them with Apple AirTags before planting them next to a group of signs supporting a pair of moderate conservatives running for Readington mayor.

The signs were then stolen, and the AirTags led the Donald Trump–aligned cohort to an unexpected location: the home of committeeman John Albanese.

Albanese, a member of the town’s Republican old guard and a former Readington mayor himself, was arrested May 17 and charged with “unlawfully taking or exercising control over certain moveable property,” according to a summons issued by Patrolman Brandon Griffiths.

Incumbent Mayor Adam Mueller and Committee Member Juergen Huelsebusch, both aligned with the town’s new conservative wing, issued a joint statement denouncing Alabanese’s alleged behavior. “The arrest of Committeeman Albanese, an elected official and former Mayor, is deeply troubling and indefensible,” the pair told the Globe. “Given the considerable damage and embarrassment this has caused to Readington Township and the Republican Party, we call for his immediate resignation from all elected offices. This is a necessary step to begin restoring trust and integrity within our community.”

Still, the election boards weren’t exactly the MAGA cohort’s property to be stolen. Originally, the House district signs belonged to the campaign for Representative Thomas Kean Jr., though the backs of the signs had since been marked as “Property of Readington GOP,” according to the Globe.

A spokesman for the Kean campaign declined to comment to the local paper, though the freshman lawmaker is backing Huelsebusch and Mueller.