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FBI searches house belonging to NJ capital's mayor

FBI agents staged a middle-of-the-night raid Wednesday at the home of Trenton's mayor, whose two-year administration of New Jersey's impoverished capital city has been marked by accusations of nepotism and reckless spending. 

Mayor Tony Mack, 46, emerging later in the morning from his home, denied any wrongdoing. 

"We have not violated the public trust nor have I violated any of my public duties and that's all I have to say on the matter," he said. 

Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey, said the FBI was present at Mack's home earlier but said she could not provide any other details. 

Mack's administration has been in turmoil from Day 1, staggering from one crisis to another. A housecleaning of staff at City Hall opened the door for Mack's own appointees, who quickly turned it into a revolving door. Some left over questions about their credentials, others to face criminal charges. 

Under an agreement reached last year, the Democrat can only hire department heads from a pool of applicants the state offers or he risks losing $6 million in state aid. 

A citizens group last year failed to get enough signatures to force a recall election. 

In just Mack's first year in office in Trenton, a city of 85,000, he ran through a string of business administrators. The first resigned after a month, saying the mayor didn't believe in "ired police officer who had initially supported Mack but then became a harsh critic, said he didn't know the focus of the investigation but said "when the feds come after you, they come after you for a good reason." 

Muschal said city workers regularly come to him with a wide range of complaints but that Mack is many times impossible to reach. "He's the commander-in- chief, he's leading the ship and I don't know where it's going. The man does what he wants," he said. 

A year ago, Muschal told The Associated Press that City Hall had become corrupted by the Mack administration. 

"It won't stop until someone takes him out in handcuffs or he's removed by recall," Muschal said at the time. 

Trenton ranks as one of the nation's poorest state capitals, with about 20 percent of the population living below the poverty line. It also ranks among the country's most dangerous cities. 

Mack, who has a master's degree in public policy from Fairleigh Dickinson University, has spent most of his adult life working for municipal government and as an elected county official. 

The mayor of neighboring Hamilton Township, New Jersey's largest suburb, pleaded not guilty in federal court last week to charges of extortion and money laundering. Federal prosecutors allege Mayor John Bencivengo took $12,400 from a cooperating witness in exchange for using his influence over a health insurance contract with the township's school district.