TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a former business owner was indicted today for allegedly conspiring to have on-duty employees of the North Bergen Department of Public Works (DPW) perform construction jobs at the deli and meat distributing business owned by his family.
Joseph Lorenzo, 78, of West New York, N.J., was indicted by a state grand jury on charges of second-degree conspiracy, second-degree official misconduct and third-degree theft by unlawful taking. It is alleged that Lorenzo conspired with certain individuals who are not named in the indictment to have employees of the North Bergen DPW perform construction work at the business he formerly owned on Kennedy Boulevard in North Bergen. The front part of the business was a delicatessen and eatery, while the rear area was dedicated to the supply and distribution of meat products and included a medium-sized loading depot and parking lot to accommodate delivery trucks.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. It is alleged that, on at least three occasions between January 2011 and May 2011, Lorenzo and his co-conspirators had work performed by employees of the North Bergen DPW at the family-owned business during regular work hours or while the DPW employees were being paid overtime by the township. It is further alleged that the workers used township vehicles, equipment and materials to perform the work.
“The residents of North Bergen don’t pay property taxes so that township workers, vehicles and equipment can be used to perform favors for people who have the right connections,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “We’re working hard to root out this type of corruption.”
“We’ve already convicted three former supervisors for the North Bergen Department of Public Works of abusing their authority by using township workers and resources for their personal purposes,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This indictment, however, sends an important new message by demonstrating that we will aggressively prosecute anyone who seeks to benefit from public corruption, whether or not they hold any public employment or official position.”
It is alleged specifically that DPW workers performed the following tasks at the family-owned business:
Two former supervisors for the North Bergen DPW, Troy Bunero and Francis Longo, are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 12 after being convicted at trial on June 30 of official misconduct for assigning municipal employees to work on election campaigns and complete personal chores or projects for them or their boss, Superintendent James Wiley. Wiley previously pleaded guilty and will face a sentence of five to 10 years in prison.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Hudson County, where Lorenzo will be ordered to appear in court for arraignment at a later date.
Deputy Attorneys General Victor Salgado and Julia Zukina presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. They conducted the investigation with Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Vazquez, Detective Garrett Brown, Investigator Joseph C. Salvatore and Analyst Kathy Ratliff, under the supervision of Lt. Robert Stemmer, Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione, Bureau Chief, and Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Manis, Deputy Bureau Chief.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman 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.