William Birdsall, 67, of Manchester, N.J., formerly the senior vice president and a large shareholder of BSG, pleaded guilty today to third-degree misconduct by a corporate official before Superior Court Judge James Den Uyl in Ocean County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that he be sentenced to up to 270 days in the county jail as a condition of a term of probation. Today he paid $129,115 to the state, representing forfeiture of the political contributions he made that were reimbursed by BSG. He also paid a $75,000 public corruption profiteering penalty. He will be debarred for 10 years from personally bidding on any public contracts in New Jersey or holding an interest of 5 percent or more in any company that bids for such contracts. Birdsall is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11.
Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione, Chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Mallory Shanahan are prosecuting the case and took the guilty plea from William Birdsall.
The charge was contained in a March 26, 2013 indictment, which also charged BSG and six other executives and shareholders. The indictment stemmed from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, which found that the defendants allegedly conspired to avoid the restrictions of New Jersey’s Pay-to-Play Act by disguising illegal corporate political contributions as personal contributions of employees.
On April 22, William Birdsall’s brother, Howard Birdsall, 72, of Brielle, N.J., formerly the CEO and largest shareholder of BSG, was sentenced to four years in state prison by Judge Den Uyl after pleading guilty to second-degree misconduct by a corporate official. He paid $49,808 to the state, representing forfeiture of the political contributions he made on behalf of BSG that were reimbursed by the firm.
Two other BSG executives pleaded guilty earlier this year and are awaiting sentencing. Thomas Rospos, 64, of Belmar, N.J., former executive vice president of BSG and its second largest shareholder, pleaded guilty on Feb. 25 to third-degree tampering with public records. He faces a recommended sentence of three years in state prison and must forfeit $150,000 in political contributions he made that were reimbursed by the firm. Scott MacFadden, 61, of Brick, N.J., former chief administrative officer of BSG, pleaded guilty on Jan. 6 to third-degree misconduct by a corporate official and faces a recommended sentence of up to 364 days in jail as a condition of a term of probation. He must forfeit $30,000 in political contributions he made that were reimbursed by the firm.
BSG pleaded guilty on June 13, 2013 to charges of first-degree money laundering and second-degree making false representations for government contracts. As a result of its plea, BSG paid two major criminal penalties: a $500,000 public corruption profiteering penalty and a $500,000 anti-money laundering profiteering penalty. In each instance, the penalty was the maximum amount authorized by law. BSG also paid the state $2.6 million to settle a civil forfeiture action filed by the Attorney General’s Office in connection with the criminal case.
Two former employees of the marketing department of BSG, Philip Angarone, 43, of Hamilton (Mercer County), N.J., the former marketing director, and Eileen Kufahl, 51, of Bradley Beach, N.J., pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme before the indictment was returned and also are awaiting sentencing.
The remaining defendants who are charged in the indictment face first-degree counts of conspiracy and money laundering, as well as other charges. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Under the alleged scheme, instead of Birdsall Services Group making corporate political contributions to campaigns and political organizations that would disqualify it from public contracts awarded by certain government agencies, shareholders and employees of the firm made personal political contributions of $300 or less, which are deemed unreportable. Multiple personal checks were bundled together at Birdsall Services Group and sent to the appropriate campaign or political organization. The shareholders and employees were then illegally reimbursed by Birdsall Services Group, directly or indirectly, through added bonus payments, and the firm falsely omitted the illegally reimbursed contributions in documents filed with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) and with government agencies that awarded the firm engineering services contracts. The scheme continued for more than six years and involved more than $1 million in contributions.