|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that the former supervisor at the state Department of Treasury’s First Avenue warehouse in Hamilton was sentenced to prison today for stealing surplus equipment from the warehouse.
David Winkler, 51, of Bordentown, was sentenced to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Robert C. Billmeier in Trenton. Winkler was found guilty by a Mercer County jury on Jan. 23 of conspiracy (2nd degree), official misconduct (2nd degree), theft by unlawful taking (3rd degree), and misapplication of entrusted property and property of government (3rd degree). Winkler ran a scheme in which he and other employees illicitly sold $24,292 in scrap metal and divided the proceeds between July 2005 and April 2007. Judge Billmeier ordered him to forfeit $6,073, representing his share of the stolen scrap metal, and pay a $5,000 fine, Winkler, who was suspended after his arrest in April 2008, forfeited his job as a result of the conviction and is permanently barred from public employment.
Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione, Deputy Chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Analisa Holmes tried the case and handled today’s sentencing hearing for the Division of Criminal Justice.
“This man was the most culpable of the defendants charged in this case, because he was the warehouse supervisor and directed the others in the criminal scheme,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “This prison sentence sends a strong message that public officials who abuse their positions of trust for personal gain are criminals who will be punished just like other criminals.”
“This prison sentence should deter other public employees who might consider misappropriating government property for their personal gain,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Taxpayers have the right to expect that government workers will be good and honest stewards of the supplies and equipment that are paid for with tax dollars.”
Three other former warehouse employees previously pleaded guilty in the scrap metal scheme. They are James Mate, 52, of Yardville, Dominick Mangine, 49, of Jackson, and William Gawroski III, 37, of Hamilton. A fifth employee, Thomas Sundstrom, 70, of Southampton, pleaded guilty to misappropriating state computer equipment.
Sundstrom and Gawroski were sentenced on March 28 by Judge Billmeier. Sundstrom was sentenced to one year of probation and 364 days in jail, but the jail sentence was suspended conditioned on his successful completion of probation. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 19, 2009 to third-degree official misconduct, admitting that, at Winkler’s direction, he gave state computer equipment to a co-worker and to juveniles assigned to a work study program at the warehouse.
Gawroski was sentenced to 18 months of probation. He was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and forfeit $7,473. Gawroski pleaded guilty on April 11, 2008 to third-degree pattern of official misconduct. The other defendants had already paid full restitution for the stolen scrap metal, but Judge Billmeier ordered Gawroski to forfeit $6,073, representing his share, plus an additional $1,400.
Mate and Mangine were sentenced in 2009. Mate pleaded guilty to second-degree official misconduct and was sentenced to three years in state prison. Mangine pleaded guilty to third-degree pattern of official misconduct and was sentenced to 364 days in jail as a condition of two years of probation.
Sundstrom, Gawroski, Mate and Mangine all forfeited their jobs and are permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.
The charges resulted from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police that commenced when Treasury officials obtained information that Gawroski was taking illegal payments from a recycling company in return for helping the company to secure more valuable equipment in auctions of surplus state computer equipment. The probe quickly expanded to include evidence that employees at the warehouse were taking home state-owned computers and that Winkler and other employees were taking surplus metal equipment to a non-approved recycler, selling it for cash as scrap metal, and splitting the money. The surplus metal items sold as scrap included desks, filing cabinets and other furniture and equipment.
Scrap metal from the warehouse is supposed to go to one recycling company that has a contract with the state to buy it. The company credits the state for each load and pays Treasury by check. Gawroski, Mangine and Mate admitted they participated in a scheme with Winkler in which they took the scrap metal to another recycling company in Trenton, which paid up to several hundred dollars in cash per load that was divided among the men. The testimony and evidence showed that Winkler, as supervisor, was in charge of this scheme and gave orders to the others.
The investigation was conducted by Lt. Keith Dangler, Detective Sgt. 1st Class John Cappetta and Detective Sgt. Vincent Greene of the New Jersey State Police State Governmental Security Bureau Investigations Unit, and Detective Melissa Calkin of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Picione presented the case to the state grand jury and has prosecuted the other defendants. Detective Shaun Egan, Analyst Nathalie Kurzawa and Analyst Allison Callery assisted with the trial.