Labor officer sentenced 30 months for embezzlement
The former secretary treasurer of a New Jersey ironworkers’ union was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for embezzling more than $560,000 from the union, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced on Thursday.
James J. Kearney Jr., 44, of Bayonne, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson to one count of embezzlement.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Kearney was the secretary treasurer and an employee of the International Association Of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers (Local 45) headquartered in Jersey City. The local has approximately 280 active members. As secretary treasurer, Kearney was responsible for maintaining all of the local’s financial books and records, which included the depositing of receipts and the disbursement of funds. Kearney occupied a position of trust in relation to Local 45 and its members as a group. He held the position from June 2007 through September 2010.
From January 2009 through September 2010, Kearney withdrew approximately $471,000 in cash directly from the local’s Bank of America general fund account. During the same period, he also failed to deposit approximately $90,365 in receipts from membership dues, other fees and monies received from the union’s annual dinner dance. The money, a total of $561,365, was all for personal use.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Thompson sentenced Kearney to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $561,000 in restitution.
Governor changes housing policy
The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) Board held a special meeting on May 15 to propose new rules that would provide more incentives to developers to include housing units for homeless families in their developments. The proposed rules also aim to increase the construction of affordable units in high achieving school districts, encourage the development of mixed income properties and limit further development in areas already containing large amounts of federal and state financed low and moderate income housing.
Today’s recommendations would amend the state’s Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), which allocates tax credits to developers as part of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program.
“My administration is committed to expanding housing options for our most vulnerable citizens as part of our long-term, comprehensive plan to combat homelessness,” said Gov. Christopher Christie. “I’m particularly pleased that the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency has been able to identify and implement changes that will address the issue of chronic homelessness and provide incentives to build mixed income housing developments.”
The proposed new rules would revise the way the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program is administered in New Jersey by the HMFA. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program was created in 1982 within the IRS Code to encourage investment in multifamily housing for low-income households. The tax credits are a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal tax liability and act as a catalyst to attract private investment into the affordable housing market. They are sold to an investor by the developer who, through equity from the sale, is able to take out a smaller mortgage to help build the project and is thereby able to charge more affordable rents. Through their annual allocation plans, high-cost states such as New Jersey can add additional incentives for projects located in high-cost areas or in areas that are difficult to develop.
New Jersey is annually allocated approximately $18 million in low income tax credits. The sale of the credits produces over $162 million in project equity.
Bill helps American-born students access college
Legislation sponsored by Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz and Senate Higher Education Chair Sandra Bolden Cunningham to ensure that New Jersey students born in the United States are provided equal access to college, regardless of their parents’ immigration status, was recently approved by a Senate committee.
The Higher Education Citizenship Equality Act would reverse a discriminatory state policy that prevents New Jersey students – who are born in the country and therefore are U.S. citizens – from accessing financial aid offered under state tuition assistance programs if their parents are undocumented immigrants. The measure (S-1760) would also provide that New Jersey students born in the United States are eligible for in-state tuition rates, provided they have resided in the state for at least 12 consecutive months prior to enrollment and that their parents submit certain income tax documentation to the institution.
“The practice of denying student’s state aid based on their parents’ immigration status is discriminatory and unjust,” said Senator Ruiz. “It unfairly prevents U.S. citizens from accessing the educational opportunities they are entitled to and that their classmates are being provided. Moreover, this policy is contrary to our goal of ensuring that all students have the tools they need to attain educational success. It is unacceptable and should be corrected.”
The obstacle to obtaining financial aid for certain United States-born students stems from state-written regulations which determine the residency of dependent students based on where their parents live, or are “domiciled.” To demonstrate residency, the state requires the parent to submit a copy of a New Jersey driver’s license – which an undocumented individual cannot obtain – and a copy of New Jersey State Income Tax Returns. The inability of parents to provide documentation results in students being denied state financial aid.
“Students born in this country are constitutionally entitled to all of the benefits provided to their peers, irrespective of their parents’ immigration status,” said Senator Cunningham. “A state policy that deprives a particular population of students of an equal opportunity for state financial aid is fundamentally flawed at best. At worst, it appears to be a violation of the state and federal constitutions that is worthy of scrutiny and in need of a legislative fix.”
The senators’ bill (S-1760) would reverse the state’s policy of denying U.S.-born New Jersey students tuition assistance based on their parents’ status. The legislation would provide that a dependant student will be “domiciled” in the state for the purposes of determining eligibility for a state student loan, grant or scholarship if: the student is a U.S. citizen; the student has resided in New Jersey for not less than 12 consecutive months immediately prior to the academic period for which state student assistance is being requested; and the student’s parent or guardian provides the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority with documentation of having filed a state and federal income tax return for the most recent tax year, or of evidence of having income tax withheld.
Hudson Chamber, Culinary Conference Center launch initiative
The Hudson County Chamber of Commerce and the Culinary Conference Center at Hudson County Community College are collaborating to provide Chamber members and local businesses a cost-effective program to market directly to potential customers. Beginning June 5, the Culinary Conference Center will provide exhibitor table space during their 2-hour weekly Tuesday Culinary Cafés at a special rate for Chamber members.
The exhibitor table program will provide small businesses an opportunity to market directly to an audience of approximately 100 small business owners as well as financial, insurance, educational and publishing industry professionals who dine between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. every Tuesday at the Culinary Center at 161 Newkirk Street. Additionally, businesses participating in the program will be included in Culinary Center advertising that reaches an audience of more than 1,500.
“This effort between the Chamber and Culinary Conference Center is about driving value opportunities for our members who want to raise their visibility but may have limited marketing budgets,” explains Maria Nieves, president and CEO of the Chamber. “Chamber Members will realize this is a fantastic way to access an audience of more than 100 local residents and professionals who frequent the weekly Culinary Cafés. It’s guerilla marketing at its best.”
While Chamber members will receive a reduced rate for each exhibitor table rental, the program is also open to non-Chamber members. “We’re pleased to partner with the Chamber to offer a member-to-member special that can also benefit the entire business community and provide an opportunity for diners to learn more about area establishments,” said George Hefelle, Director of the Culinary Conference Center.
Founded in 1888, the Chamber currently represents more than 350 member companies and organizations, facilitates forums with local, state and federal officials, and provides a platform for business networking and partnerships.
For more information about the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.