State Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced on Monday that former Deputy Director of Public Works Timothy Grossi has been indicted by a state grand jury for allegedly ordering North Bergen DPW employees to work on political campaigns and to perform his household chores while they were being paid by the township.
Grossi, 72, of Jersey City, is the fourth man to be charged in an ongoing investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice into alleged abuses involving employees of the North Bergen Department of Public Works (DPW) being paid by the township for work unrelated to DPW functions.
On Sept. 11, DPW Superintendent James Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit official misconduct, admitting he directed DPW employees to perform hundreds of hours of chores at his home and to work on political campaigns in other towns while being paid by the township.
On Sept. 21, two DPW supervisors were indicted for allegedly directing employees to do personal chores for Wiley and work on campaigns.
As Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works, Grossi was Wiley’s boss. It is alleged that Grossi ordered Wiley to send DPW employees to Bayonne and Jersey City to engage in campaign work on behalf of candidates.
“Local taxpayers should never be asked to foot the bill for this type of corruption.” – Attorney General Chiesa
Among other things, the indictment alleges that Grossi directly ordered or had another person order one or more DPW employees to install windows and window air conditioning units at his home, perform gardening work or other personal tasks at the homes of others, pick up or deliver political literature, and take photographs of political signs.
Grossi is charged with one count of official misconduct for allegedly directing subordinate employees to work on campaigns on three occasions while being paid by the township: Nov. 4, 2008, in connection with a mayoral campaign in Bayonne; May 12, 2009, in connection with a mayoral campaign in Jersey City; and Nov. 2, 2010, in Jersey City, in connection with a campaign for sheriff.
Grossi is charged with theft and misapplication of government property for his alleged role in the unlawful use of employee services, vehicles, tools and equipment for the election campaigns and personal tasks. In two counts related to tampering with or falsifying records, Grossi is charged in connection with alleged involvement in the submission of fraudulent timesheets related to his own hours and the hours of subordinate employees, which allegedly covered up the unlawful work done on campaigns and on personal tasks.
“We allege that Grossi, who was one of the top officials in the Department of Public Works, ordered that employees be unlawfully used for personal and political purposes, all at the taxpayers’ expense,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “Local taxpayers should never be asked to foot the bill for this type of corruption, and we are working hard to eliminate it, in North Bergen and throughout New Jersey.”
Grossi’s attorney, Samuel Deluca, said he had not seen the indictment and could not comment on the matter yet.
Suspended without pay
Grossi currently receives an annual salary of approximately $133,000 from the township. According to Town Spokesperson Paul Swibinski, Grossi has been suspended without pay in accord with township policy.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned it to Bergen County, where Grossi will be ordered to appear for arraignment at a later date.
Response to recent indictment
The township has been trying to recover from the DPW scandal.
“Prior to these allegations, Mr. Grossi had a long and successful career and a reputation as a good manager,” said Town Spokesperson Swibinski last week. “He says that he is innocent and he is entitled to have his day in court. The Public Works Department is being reorganized with new leadership and is continuing to operate in a very efficient and cost-effective manner. We are trying to put the matter behind us.”
Larry Wainstein, who is a frequent critic of Mayor Nicholas Sacco at the commissioners’ meetings, broached the issue at Wednesday’s meeting. Wainstein complained that like Wiley, Grossi will be able to collect his pension.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at email@example.com