Gloucester County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bob Hicks issued a formal apology today to four current or former county supervisors who have sued him for libel.
Hicks also announced that he will not seek reelection to a post that he has held for 17 years. He had run as an independent in earlier races but unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for the seat this year.
It was not clear whether the apology was part of a settlement of the civil case filed by supervisors Bobby Crewe, Michelle Ressler and Gregory Woodard and ex-supervisor Teresa Altemus.
Hicks’s attorney, Billy Tunner, referred questions about the case to Bill Hurd and Tony Troy, the attorneys for the plaintiffs. Hurd said he would have no comment.
The lawsuit was based on statements Hicks made at a League of Women Voters luncheon in November 2008 shortly after a special prosecutor had dismissed misdemeanor charges that the supervisors had misused their offices. A special grand jury empaneled at Hicks’s requests had indicted the supervisors.
Among the statements the supervisors said were defamatory were, “I think the cases were winnable” and “I think I could have made those charges stick.”
In his apology, Hicks said he should have refrained from any comment on the cases once a judge had disqualified him because of an appearance of a conflict of interest.
He said he should have respected the “judgment of the special prosecutor that no crimes were committed and not commented. … I certainly did not mean to imply, in any way, that these four County Supervisors were guilty of criminal wrongdoing. I regret and retract those statements and I sincerely apologize for any harm they may have caused.”
Hicks added that he hoped the plaintiffs “will accept this apology in the spirit in which it is offered and graciously forgive me for my callous remarks.”
By Alan Cooper