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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
March 3, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 

Division of Criminal Justice Charges Second Old Bridge Official with Using Government Position to Obtain Personal Benefits from Contractors

State Grand Jury Indictment Charges Municipal Engineer Demanded Thousands of Dollars in Home Improvements from Local Developers as Cost of Doing Business...

Ongoing State Investigation has Charged Director of Community Development and Municipal Engineering Inspector with Abusing their Government Position and Official Misconduct...

TRENTON -Attorney General Peter C. Harvey announced that an ongoing municipal corruption investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice has resulted in the criminal indictment of yet another Old Bridge Township municipal official on charges of seeking and receiving thousands of dollars in financial favors from developers doing business with the Township in expectation of expedited and/or favorable service and rulings on applications, permits and inspections. The State Grand Jury indictment charged official misconduct and other corruption-related charges.

“This indictment results from an ongoing state investigation targeting public corruption by municipal officials who have demanded favors and services from developers and contractors doing business with the municipality,” said Attorney General Harvey. “The demanding of goods, services, favors, and cash from contractors in order to obtain routine approvals and inspections is perhaps the most insidious example of corruption that is, unfortunately, considered ‘business as usual’ by far too many government officers. This type of corruption reaches into all levels of government and truly impacts the level of municipal services and the quality of life in our municipalities.”

According to Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy, a State Grand Jury indictment charged Barry C. Bowers, (age unavailable), 536 Summit Drive, Point Pleasant, Ocean County, with two counts of second degree official misconduct, three counts of acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by public servant, and six counts of gifts to a public servant. Bowers is identified as the current Engineering Inspector for Old Bridge Township, Middlesex County. If convicted on all counts, Bowers faces more than 20 years in state prison and fines of more than $750,000.

Director McKoy noted that the State Grand Jury indictment resulted from an ongoing investigation targeting allegations of bribery and corruption related to the Old Bridge Township Engineering and Code Department. The investigation, conducted by State Investigators assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Antitrust & Procurement Fraud Unit, is targeting additional allegations that public employees solicited money or favors from developers, contractors, and others doing business in the Township in exchange for the expectation of expedited and/or favorable service and rulings on applications, permits and inspections. The investigation uncovered no evidence that the alleged illegal activities allowed for unsafe or under-code construction.

According to McKoy, Bowers, as Engineering Inspector for Old Bridge, maintained responsibility for implementing the permitting functions of the department, including fee assessment and collection, applications and plan review, permit issuance, inspection and occupancy. The State Grand Jury indictment charges that at various times from 1999 through 2003, Bowers used his government position to repeatedly induce, solicit, and accept gifts valued at more than $27,000 from developers and/or contractors doing business in the municipality of Old Bridge. The indictment alleges that:

  • April - June, 1999 - It is alleged that Bowers obtained Andersen brand windows valued at $7,439.13 and a decorative exterior railing worth $329.75 which were paid for by Woodcliff Developers, Inc. - a developer building Oxford Estates and doing business in Old Bridge. The windows and railings were installed in Bowers Summit Drive residence;
  • September - November, 1999 - The indictment charges that Bowers arranged for the installation of a $2,025.00 replacement furnace at the residence of an Engineering Department secretary. The furnace was paid for by representatives from Woodcliff Developers;
  • July - August, 2001 - It is charged that Bowers received “top-of-the-line” Diamond kitchen cabinets and Corian countertops at a total cost of $13,023.16 paid for by Atlantic Realty, Inc. - a developer engaged in the construction of various Old Bridge Township projects, including Matchaponix Hills, Matchaponix Estates, Presidential Estates, and Rocky Creek developments;
  • January, 2002 - The indictment charges that Bowers arranged to have Andersen windows and accessories worth more than $1,500.00 installed at his son-in-law’s Point Pleasant residence. The windows were paid for by Atlantic Realty; and
  • December, 2002 - February, 2003 - It is charged that Bowers arranged to have a garage door installed at his son’s Point Pleasant residence. The door was valued at $1,200.00 and was paid for by representatives from Atlantic Realty.

Criminal Justice Director McKoy noted that on Jan. 13, a State Grand Jury charged John P. Vincenti, 43, Tall Oaks Drive, Brick, Ocean County, with second degree official misconduct, acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by public servant, gift to public servant, witness tampering, and obstructing the administration of law or governmental function. Vincenti is the Director of Community Development & Township Engineer for Old Bridge Township, Middlesex County, and was Bowers’ supervisor. The indictment charged that from May through August, 2003, Vincenti solicited and received $3,800 which was used to pay for landscaping services at his Ocean County residence. The landscaping services were paid by a representative of Atlantic Realty. As Director of Community Development/Township Engineer since 2002, Vincenti supervised the Township engineering, planning and code enforcement divisions.

Criminal Justice Director McKoy noted that the investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Antitrust Procurement Fraud Unit utilized undercover investigative techniques and other investigative procedures to document the alleged illegal activity. In the interest of investigative security and pursuant to established court requirements, the Division of Criminal Justice is limited in discussing specific details regarding the alleged illegal activity and investigative details, including identifying victims and specific details of the alleged extortion activity.

“This type of corruption - the shaking-down of contractors and developers for cash and services - raises the cost of local development by increasing the costs of construction,” said Director McKoy. “The Division of Criminal Justice targets fraud and corruption related to the procurement process by working with, and providing information to, New Jersey municipal officials so they can identify and report procurement fraud.”

Deputy Director and Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rossner and Deputy Attorney General Steven Zweig coordinated the investigation. Supervising State Investigator Kim Karasiewicz and State Investigators Susan Marshall and Kimberly Allen of the Antitrust Procurement Fraud Unit conducted the investigation. Additionally, the Division of Criminal Justice investigation was assisted by the administration of Old Bridge Mayor James T. Phillips, the Old Bridge Township Council, and the Office of the Township Attorney.

McKoy noted that the investigation tracked a 2003 report compiled by the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) which detailed allegations of corruption and favors in the county and municipal home inspection process. The SCI referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice and continues to provide investigative assistance to the ongoing investigation.

The indictment was handed-up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg, the Supervising Judge of the State Grand Jury, on March 2. The defendant will be required to appear in Middlesex County Superior Court for arraignment and bail.

The defendant is presumed innocent of the charge unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. A copy of the State Grand Jury indictment is available via the Division of Criminal Justice Web site at www.njdcj.org.

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