NORTH BERGEN AND BEYOND -- New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chisea announced Friday that two supervisors from the North Bergen Department of Public Works have been indicted for allegedly assigning municipal employees to work on election campaigns and to complete personal chores or projects for their superior, Superintendent James Wiley. The municipal employees were apparently paid by the township while they completed this personal work.
Wiley already pleaded guilty last week to asking employees of the town of North Bergen to do work at his home and to do campaign work in other towns, all while being paid by the township of North Bergen. Sometimes, the employees earned overtime.
The two supervisors indicted are Troy Bunero and Francis “Frank” Longo.
“Public Works Commissioner Frank Gargiulo is suspending Frank Longo and Troy Bunero without pay, effective immediately, in accordance with township policy,” said North Bergen Town Spokesperson Paul Swibinski in a statement on Friday. “Commissioner Gargiulo continues to focus on reorganizing the Public Works Department with new leadership and better training practices. These indictments were anticipated since both employees were named by the former DPW Superintendent during his guilty plea on Sept. 11. The township has been fully cooperating with the state investigation and will continue to do so. The township has estimated that improper work done by DPW employees cost taxpayers an estimated $15,000 and we are determined to recover those costs.”
Bunero, 46, of North Bergen, and Longo, 47, of Ridgefield Park, were each charged in an eight-count state grand jury indictment with conspiracy (2nd degree), two counts of official misconduct (2nd degree), pattern of official misconduct (2nd degree), theft by unlawful taking (3rd degree), and misapplication of entrusted property and property of government (3rd degree). Bunero alone was also charged with tampering with public records or information (3rd degree) and falsifying records or information (4th degree).
The second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000. The official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without parole. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
“We allege that these defendants, like Wiley, were [allegedly] part of a corrupt operation in which public works employees were regularly deployed for political work or to serve as personal handymen for their bosses, all while being paid by the township,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “We’re working to root out this type of abuse of power and taxpayer funds in North Bergen and throughout New Jersey.”
For more on the ongoing DPW story, see the cover of this weekend's North Bergen Reporter.