New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey stated that a public corruption investigation conducted by the Attorney General's Special Prosecutions Bureau resulted in a criminal accusation, charging Impreveduto with the misapplication of entrusted property and property of government or financial institution (third degree) and concealment or misrepresentation of contributions or expenditures (fourth degree).
"Assemblyman Impreveduto has pleaded guilty to siphoning thousands of dollars donated by constituents who expected their contributions to be used for campaign expenses - not personal enrichment. This defendant has demonstrated that greed and self-indulgence are more important than public service," said Attorney General Harvey.
As part of a plea bargain made before entering his guilty plea at the Mercer County Superior Court, Impreveduto will stay out of prison but pay hefty fines of up to $25,000, make restitution of all campaign funds misused, receive a probationary sentence, and will be forever disqualified from holding any "public office or position of honor, trust, or profit."
Calls to his Assembly office were not returned last week.
In accordance with the latter part of the plea bargain, Impreveduto was allowed to resign from various positions before his court appearance. It is widely suspected that authorities allowed Impreveduto to resign from state and local positions ahead of time in order to keep his retirement pensions.
Impreveduto first resigned from the state Assembly, where he served as deputy speaker. He also resigned at the monthly Board of Education meeting from posts held with the Secaucus school district. Impreveduto, chairman of the high school Finance Department as well as a business teacher at the high school, tendered a letter of retirement to the board effective Jan. 17, 2005.
"I would like to thank the Secaucus Board of Education for affording me a wonderful opportunity to work in what I consider one of the best school districts in the State of New Jersey," wrote Impreveduto in his resignation.
The accusations allege that from August, 1999 through May, 2004, Impreveduto diverted thousands of dollars from an election fund to pay for personal, non-campaign related expenses. The Special Prosecutions Bureau investigation, in conjunction with state and federal law enforcement agencies, "determined that the campaign funds were used by Impreveduto for personal expenses such as the payment of personal income taxes, personal travel for him and his family, furniture, household items, clothing, and other items."
Last May, agents for state police raided Impreveduto's house and seized computers.
Impreveduto tended to downplay the raid, telling various newspapers at the time that the investigation centered on American Express payments he had made during 2001. At that time, Impreveduto also told the Record of Bergen County that his wife had accompanied him on a trip to England, which he had charged to his American Express card and paid off using his campaign fund.
Credit card payments from his account, however, were not unusual. Campaign contribution reports showed consistent monthly payments of various amounts dating back to 1999. Although the payment in question from December 2001 was about $2,700, the records show numerous other monthly payments, some for significantly greater amounts, with the largest payment made in December 2000 of $13,603.
In addition to misusing funds, questions have also been raised as to the legitimacy of the funds raised. According to published reports, Impreveduto received campaign contributions from lobbyists and business groups with a vested interest in Impreveduto's positions as chair of the Regulated Professions and Independent Authorities and as a member of the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards.
Impreveduto raised close to $81,000 in campaign funds for the 2005 election, with $67,000 of that amount coming from lobbyists and business groups with issues pending before his committee, meaning that over 82 percent of campaign contributions made to Impreveduto had stakes in legislation that he would directly impact.
Because of the impeding need for campaign finance reform, New Jersey has been at the forefront of instituting public financing in legislation campaigns and this year will test new reforms in three different legislative district races.
Impreveduto, 56, is one of the longest serving state Assembly members. First elected in 1987, he has served nine terms as an elected assemblyman from Hudson County. The 32nd District in which Impreveduto served includes Fairview in Bergen County and six Hudson County municipalities, including all of Secaucus and North Bergen and part of Jersey City.
He served as Assembly minority conference leader from 1994 to 2001 and had been currently serving as the Assembly deputy speaker since 2002. Impreveduto also served on the Secaucus Town Council from 1981 to 1992. Until recently, Impreveduto served both as chairman of the Secaucus Democratic organization and its treasurer, but withdrew as treasurer in July.
In announcing the accusation, Attorney General Harvey noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free "Corruption Tip Line" for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities surrounding political process. The statewide "Corruption Tip Line" can be dialed at (866)-TIPS-4CJ.
Additionally, the public can log-on to the Division of Criminal Justice web page at www.njdcj.org to electronically report suspected wrongdoing. All information received via the Division of Criminal Justice "Corruption Tip Line" will remain confidential.