TRENTON – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that Timothy Grossi, former deputy director of the North Bergen Department of Public Works (DPW), pleaded guilty today to a charge that he ordered subordinate employees to run political errands while they were on duty and being paid by the township.
Grossi, 77, of Jersey City, N.J., pleaded guilty today to a charge of third-degree misapplication of entrusted property and property of government before Superior Court Judge Margaret M. Foti in Bergen County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Grossi be sentenced to five years in state prison. However, the judge indicated on the record in court that she intends to suspend the sentence because of the condition of Grossi’s health. Grossi will be permanently barred from public office or employment in New Jersey. He is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 8.
In pleading guilty, Grossi admitted that he directed on-duty DPW workers using township vehicles to go to the county clerk’s office to perform errands related to his personal political activity in the township – and unrelated to township business – including picking up and dropping off challenger badges.
Deputy Attorneys General Cynthia Vazquez and Charles Wright prosecuted Grossi and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice. Grossi is the fourth supervisor from the North Bergen DPW to plead guilty or be found guilty at trial in an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau into abuses involving DPW employees being paid by North Bergen Township for work unrelated to DPW functions. On Sept. 11, 2012, former DPW Superintendent James Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit official misconduct, admitting he directed DPW employees to perform hundreds of hours of chores at his home and to work on campaigns while being paid by the township. He is awaiting sentencing. In 2015, former DPW supervisors Troy Bunero and Francis Longo were convicted at trial of second-degree charges of conspiracy and official misconduct for assigning municipal employees to work on election campaigns and complete personal chores or projects for them or their boss, Wiley. Bunero and Longo were each sentenced to five years in state prison.
“Grossi was one of the top officials in the North Bergen Department of Public Works, but this guilty plea will make him a convicted felon, just like the three supervisors under him who previously pled guilty or were convicted at trial,” said Attorney General Porrino. “By arrogantly abusing the power entrusted to him and exploiting public workers for political purposes, Grossi promoted a culture of corruption within his department, a culture we exposed through our investigation.”
“North Bergen residents pay taxes to fund essential government services, not to fund officials who misuse public resources for personal gain or political advantage,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll continue to protect public assets by aggressively investigating and prosecuting corrupt officials like Grossi.”
Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free Corruption Tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities confidentially. The public can also log on to the Division webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.
Jeffrey Garrigan, Jr., Esq., Cammarata, Nulty & Garrigan, LLC, Jersey City, N.J.
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