updated 10/9/2007 7:59:58 PM ET 2007-10-09T23:59:58

The mystery of this gambling resort town’s missing mayor appeared to be close to a conclusion Tuesday, with a request before a judge to declare his office vacant.

An attorney for Mayor Robert Levy explained the town leader’s two-week disappearance involved time at a Somerset County clinic known for treatment of substance abuse and mental health issues.

He has been home since Thursday, his attorney Edwin Jacobs said.

City officials last heard from Levy on Sept. 26, when he called in sick, climbed into his city-issued Dodge Durango and seemingly vanished. His aides have said only that he was hospitalized somewhere, and would not disclose his condition.

Members of the City Council say they’re fed up with the disappearing mayor, who is under federal investigation for embellishing his Army service in Vietnam, and have asked a judge to clear the way for the council president to take over as interim mayor.

Councilman William “Speedy” Marsh was preparing to take office immediately, said Marsh’s attorney, James Leonard.

The mayor’s attorney said he met briefly with a state judge who scheduled a Friday hearing to discuss the vacancy request.

Councilman Bruce Ward has called Levy’s disappearance “a national embarrassment.”

Lawyer: Mayor in private clinic
Jacobs said the mayor checked himself into the Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead on either Sept. 26 or 27.

“He was there for a week, and he has been convalescing at home since last Thursday,” said Jacobs, who would not say why Levy had sought treatment.

The lawyer promised to issue a statement on Wednesday with more details of Levy’s situation, and declined further comment. A phone message left at Levy’s home was not returned.

According to the clinic’s Web site, the clinic is a private, not-for-profit behavioral health care system.

“At Carrier, hospital stays tend to be brief, with the goal of crisis intervention, medical stabilization and transition to the next appropriate level of care,” according to the Web site. “Treatment teams consist of a psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, licensed clinical social workers, allied clinical therapists and certified addiction counselors,”

City plans for resignation
Marsh’s attorney said he believes Levy’s resignation is “imminent.”

“There’s nothing in play that suggests that Levy is going to return,” Leonard said. “We are preparing for a smooth, swift and immediate transition that will allow Mr. Marsh to take over as mayor. There is a plan in place.”

Mayoral spokesman Nick Morici said he does not know what Levy’s plans are. Levy’s wife, Hazel, who also works at City Hall, said she also didn’t know and declined to comment further.

City Business Administrator Domenic Cappella, who is serving as acting mayor, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Last fall, the Press of Atlantic City reported that the Vietnam veteran’s claims that he was a member of the Green Berets were untrue. He apologized, but federal authorities have been looking into whether the 64-year-old Levy made that claim to increase his veteran’s benefit payments.

Opponents were already gathering signatures in a fledgling recall drive when he disappeared. They criticized the mayor, who took office last year, for his sporadic attendance at council meetings and his ties with one of three former council members to plead guilty since last year in a corruption case.

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