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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
March 29, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General

 

Paul Loriquet
609-292-4791

 
Attorney General Harvey Announces Theft Charges Against School Construction Contractor
State Grand Jury Indicts Contractor for Stealing Nearly $1 Million from Six Subcontractors Causing One to Declare Bankruptcy

TRENTON – Attorney General Peter C. Harvey today announced charges against a former Somerset County school construction contractor with allegedly embezzling nearly $1 million of public funds from six subcontractors for work performed for the Edison Township Board of Education. The charges were investigated by the Office of Government Integrity.

“Our office continues to aggressively investigate persons and companies who steal from school districts and others involved in public works contracts for school construction projects,” said Attorney General Harvey. “We will continue to protect school districts and hard working subcontractors, including their employees, from unscrupulous businessmen.”

According to John Kennedy, Director of the Office of Government Integrity, a State Grand Jury indictment charged Manny Bana, 38, the former sole owner and operator of Icon Construction Corporation of Somerville, formerly of Roselle Park and currently residing in Hollywood, Florida, with four counts of second degree false contract payment claims for government contracts, four counts of second degree false contract representation for a government contract, second degree theft by failure to make required disposition, and second degree misapplication of entrusted property. Bana was also charged with second degree misconduct by a corporate official. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in jail. Icon Construction Corporation was indicted for the same charges.

“We are committed to uncovering and prosecuting thefts and frauds in the State’s school construction program,” Kennedy said. This indictment sends a strong message to anyone who violates the public’s trust.”

According to Attorney General Harvey, on December 19, 2002, Icon Construction Corporation, as prime contractor, was awarded two contracts totaling more than $7 million dollars, funded in part by the New Jersey Schools Construction Corporation, to perform work at nine schools in the Edison school district. Icon Construction subcontracted out portions of the work. The indictment alleges that Bana received payment from the school district for work performed by six subcontractors, but failed to pay the subcontractors. Subsequently, one subcontractor filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

On March 19, 2004, Bana and the corporation were debarred by the New Jersey Schools Construction Corporation and the Division of Property Management and Construction from receiving public works contracts in New Jersey.

OGI State Investigators Kim Husband, Special Investigator Lee Wittig and Deputy Attorney General Ronald Epstein were assigned to the investigation. DAG Epstein represented the OGI before the State Grand Jury. The State Commission of Investigation assisted the investigation.

The subcontractors impacted by the theft were: Three Generations Plumbing & Heating, Inc. of Morris Plains; Weir Welding Company, Inc. of Carlstadt; DPR Electric, Inc. of Bound Brook; Brittashan Enterprises of Franklin; M&R Mechanical Contractors, Inc. of Highlands and WHL Enterprises, Inc. trading as Bill Leary Air Conditioning & Heating.

The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.



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