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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
January 13, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 
 

Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice Charges Old Bridge Official with Using Government Position to Obtain Personal Benefit

State Grand Jury Indicts Director of Community Development/Township Engineer on Official Misconduct Charges...

Official Charged with Receiving $3,800 from Local Developer to Pay for Landscaping Services...


TRENTON - Attorney General Peter C. Harvey announced that the Division of Criminal Justice has charged the Director of Community Development/Township Engineer for Old Bridge Township with seeking and receiving $3,800 in financial favors from a developer doing business with the Township. The State Grand Jury indictment charged official misconduct and other corruption-related charges.

“This indictment charges a senior township official with demanding cash from a businessman and developer and later using that cash to pay for landscaping at his private residence. He also attempted to conceal his behavior by obstructing the ongoing investigation by our office,” said Attorney General Harvey. “It should be noted that this investigation and prosecution uncovered an insidious example of corruption that is, unfortunately, considered ‘business as usual’ by far too many government officers. The Division of Criminal Justice Major Financial Crimes Bureau has established a specialized program to assist municipal officials to identify and report procurement fraud. The Attorney General’s Office is continuing to target all forms of corruption, at all levels of government.”

According to Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy, a State Grand Jury indictment charged John P. Vincenti, 43, Tall Oaks Drive, Brick, Ocean County, with second degree official misconduct, acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by public servant, gift to public servant, witness tampering, and obstructing the administration of law or governmental function. Vincenti is identified as the Director of Community Development/Township Engineer for Old Bridge Township, Middlesex County. If convicted on all counts, Vincenti faces up to 30 years in state prison and a fine of up to $340,000.

Director McKoy noted that the State Grand Jury indictment resulted from an ongoing investigation that focused on allegations of bribery and corruption related to the Old Bridge Township engineering and code department. The investigation, conducted by state investigators assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Antitrust & Procurement Fraud Unit, is targeting additional allegations that public employees have solicited money or favors from developers, contractors, and others doing business in the Township in exchange for expedited and/or favorable service and rulings on applications, permits and inspections. The investigation uncovered no evidence that the alleged illegal activities allowed for unsafe or under-code construction.

The indictment charges that from May through August, 2003, Vincenti solicited and received $3,800 which was used to pay for landscaping services at his Ocean County residence. The landscaping services were paid by a representative of Atlantic Realty, an Old Bridge developer which manages various Old Bridge Township-area developments, including Matchaponix Hills, Matchaponix Estates (Rocky Creek), and Presidential Estates. As Director of Community Development/Township Engineer since 2002, Vincenti supervised the Township engineering, planning and code enforcement divisions. Vincenti was also responsible for overseeing the permitting functions of the department, including fee assessment and collection, applications and plan review, permit issuance, inspection and occupancy.

The indictment also alleges that when Vincenti learned that State Investigators, armed with State Grand Jury subpoenas, were seeking various financial records and documents related to the alleged improper activity, he (Vincenti) took steps to thwart the investigation and induce potential witnesses to lie to the State Grand Jury.

Criminal Justice Director McKoy noted that the investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Antitrust Procurement Fraud Unit utilized undercover investigative techniques and other sophisticated investigative procedures to document the alleged illegal activity. In the interest of investigative security and pursuant to established court requirements, the Division of Criminal Justice is limited in discussing specific details regarding the alleged illegal activity and investigative details, including identifying victims and specific details of the alleged extortion activity.

“This type of corruption - the shaking-down of contractors and developers for cash and services - raises the cost of local development by increasing the costs of construction,” said Director McKoy. “The Antitrust Procurement Fraud Unit targets fraud and corruption related to the procurement process by working with, and providing information to, New Jersey municipal officials so they can identify and report procurement fraud.”

Deputy Director and Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rossner and Deputy Attorney General Steven Zweig coordinated the investigation. Supervising State Investigator Kim Karasiewicz and State Investigators Susan Marshall and Kimberly Allen of the Antitrust Procurement Fraud Unit conducted the investigation. Additionally, the Division of Criminal Justice investigation was assisted by the administration of Old Bridge Mayor James T. Phillips, the Old Bridge Township Council, and the Office of Township Attorney. The investigation tracked the 2003 report compiled by the State Commission of Investigation which detailed allegations of corruption and favors in the county and municipal home inspection process.

The indictment was handed-up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg, the Supervising Judge of the State Grand Jury, on Jan. 12. The defendant will be required to appear in Middlesex County Superior Court at a future date for arraignment and bail.

The defendant is presumed innocent of the charge unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. A copy of the State Grand Jury indictment is available via the Division of Criminal Justice Web site at www.njdcj.org.

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