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TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that an employee of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (“PVSC” ), a state agency, has been charged with paying a $1,200 bribe to a senior official at the agency.
Omid Bayati, 39, of Hillsdale, N.J., was charged on Thursday, Jan. 7, by complaint-summons with bribery in official and political matters (2nd degree) and offer of unlawful benefit to public servant for official behavior (2nd degree).
While employed at the PVSC in Newark, N.J., Bayati allegedly made an improper payment of $1,200 to at least one senior official at the PVSC. He allegedly furnished this payment first by check from an account opened under the name PVSC PAC, an organization unaffiliated with the PVSC, then by hand-to-hand cash transfer. It is alleged that, in exchange for these improper payments to the PVSC senior official, Bayati explained that he was seeking help in procuring promotional opportunities within the PVSC and in politics broadly. Specifically, he allegedly asked for special consideration and assistance from the PVSC senior official in exchange for the funds.
Deputy Attorney General Samantha Keleher and Law Clerk Samantha Thoma are prosecuting the case for the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). Bayati was charged in an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the OPIA Corruption Bureau.
The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission referred this matter to OPIA and is cooperating with the investigation.
The PVSC is a state agency responsible for managing and regulating collection and disposal of wastewater generated in a four-county area along the Passaic Valley River Basin, encompassing parts of Bergen, Passaic, Essex and Hudson counties.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The charges against Bayati carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in state prison without eligibility for parole under New Jersey’s enhanced penalties for official corruption.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Attorney General Grewal created the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability in September 2018 to combat corruption and strengthen public confidence in government institutions. In December 2019, the Attorney General issued a directive codifying OPIA and making it a permanent part of the Attorney General’s Office. That directive established the OPIA Corruption Bureau as the lead office within the Department of Law & Public Safety for the investigation and prosecution of state criminal violations involving corruption and abuse of public trust.
OPIA has a toll-free Tipline 1-844-OPIA-TIPS for the public to report corruption. The AG’s Office has an Anti-Corruption Reward Program that offers a reward of up to $25,000 for tips leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption. Information is posted at: http://nj.gov/oag/corruption/reward.html.
Defense Attorney: Undetermined.