Former Housing Authority operations director sentenced to 46 months in prison for extortion
The former operations director for the North Bergen Housing Authority was sentenced to 46 months in prison for extorting employees of a maintenance company contracted by the authority, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced on July 23.
Last December, John T. Kennell, 50, of North Bergen, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Judge Linares imposed the sentence in Newark federal court.
The release said that according to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
While operations director for the NBHA, Kennell used his official position to extort cash payments from employees of a company that provided repair and grounds maintenance services. Kennell, who supervised the employees of the company working for the authority, accepted cash payments ranging from $100 to $400 from employees for, among other things, securing additional paid vacation days for these employees. Kennell assisted in securing these additional paid vacation days by falsely reporting to the company that the employees were working at the NBHA, when they were, in fact, traveling. Between February 2008 and June 2011, the company compensated employees for approximately 80 days of unauthorized vacation, $12,498, because of Kennell’s actions.
Kennell accepted $2,000 to $2,500 in payments for his assistance. He also accepted cash payments of $50 to $100 from an undocumented alien employee of the company for permitting that employee to twice change the alias he was using to continue working. Using his position of authority, as well as the threat of termination of employment, Kennell also regularly extorted the employees of the company – sometimes as frequently as twice a month – for cash payments in amounts ranging from $10 to $20 per employee.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Kennell to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $5,000 fine.
National Night Out Announced
National Night Out in North Bergen has been announced for Tuesday, Aug. 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. at three locations.
The annual event gives township residents a chance to meet members of the North Bergen Police Department in a fun, casual setting.
“The goal of the program is to foster a stronger partnership between the residents and the police and to build the trust in the community necessary for the police to more effectively do their job keeping North Bergen safe,” said a township spokesman.
All North Bergen residents are invited to attend and the event is free at all locations.
The community block party locations are:
• Grand Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets
• Broadway between 73rd and 76th streets
• Lawlor Senior Citizen Building, 6121-6131 Grand Ave.
• All sites feature free food and beverages, rides and games for children, music, performances, giveaways, and raffles.
For more information on North Bergen’s National Night Out, call the NBPD at (201) 392-2100.
Governor doubtful about entertainment complex’s early 2014 opening
Gov. Chris Christie says he currently has no power to affect the completion of the American Dream entertainment complex on Route 3, and is doubtful it will premier by the time the Meadowlands hosts the 2014 Super Bowl in East Rutherford on Feb. 2, according to a report by Bloomberg online.
“I personally can’t do anything more than what’s already been done,” the governor told the media on July 17. “We’re within a window now where I think it would be very difficult to have anything significant open in time for the Super Bowl.”
The $3.7 billion mega entertainment and retail center, in planning stages for 10 years, was the victim of the recession, as well as squabbling over traffic issues with the two nearby NFL teams, other lawsuits, and delays due to financing, labor contracts, and property control.
The project has already had three developers and two names. Four New Jersey governors have been involved with it. Christie, who had signed off on the project, originally expected the mall and sports center to open prior to the Super Bowl.
The former Xanadu project is located across from MetLife Stadium, where the New York Giants and Jets both play. The teams are suing, saying the complex will adversely affect its fans attending games. American Dream officials feel the opposite, contending it will give those fans alternative entertainment and shopping options on game days.
KAS Prep receives $5,000 from TD Bank foundation
KAS Prep, one of the Hudson County Schools of Technology district’s alternative schools, has received a $5,000 grant from the TD Bank Charitable Foundation.
The donation will go to the school’s Financial Literacy Program, an innovative course that prepares students for real world financial issues like bank accounts, responsible credit card usage, and investments. The grant was made by TD Bank Vice President Patrick DiSanto, who serves on the HCST Foundation’s Advisory Council.
“Our district firmly believes that involving the business community in our curriculum, operations, and overall mission has strong positive outcomes for our students, our schools and the entire Hudson County educational community,” said HCST Superintendent Frank Gargiulo. I would like to thank Patrick DiSanto and TD Bank for this generous donation and all of their contributions to our foundation.”
“TD Bank believes in being actively engaged in the community and encourages its employees to be involved in community organizations and events,” DiSanto said. “We are proud to support the work being done at KAS Prep and throughout HCST.”
KAS Prep provides educational and support services to secondary students who do well in a nontraditional environment, using proficiency-based curriculum designed to fulfill their high school graduation requirements. Students are referred from their traditional high school settings and selected for a more flexible environment at HCST's North Hudson Center.
“Our students benefit greatly from contributions like this one that will help our Financial Literacy Program continue to provide a set of tools to help them make sound financial decisions,” said Hawa Zoe Dahn Saw, KAS Prep director.
Library offering free concerts
The North Bergen Public Library is presenting free musical performances in August at different sites in the township.
“Love is in the Air,” a musical theater showcase, will be presented on Wednesday, Aug. 7, Thursday, Aug. 8, and Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at the North Bergen High School Auditorium, 7414 Kennedy Blvd. There is no charge.
On Saturday, Aug. 10, at 5 p.m., at the North Bergen Library, 8411 Bergenline Ave., the library presents Brian Jarvis in a free acoustic concert. Jarvis will be performing popular cover songs and music from his new CD, “Beautifully Broken.”
Doors open at 4:30 p.m. for this special presentation. Visit www.brianjarvismusic.com to find out more about the performer.
For additional information on either event, call the library at (201) 869-4715 or go to www.nbpl.org.
Oktoberfest-in-August celebration set for Aug. 17 and 18
The annual Oktoberfest-in-August celebration sponsored by the Plattduetsche Volksfest-Vereen (PVV) of New York and New Jersey will be held in the Grand Ballroom in Schuetzen Park, 3167 Kennedy Blvd., as well as outdoors in the park on Saturday, Aug. 17, and Sunday, Aug. 18.
The festival opens at noon on both days, with activities scheduled starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
“As one of the largest German-American cultural and charitable organizations in New Jersey, we are always grateful to greet people of German extraction, as well as others of other ethnic and racial backgrounds,” said President Teri Nemeth.
Food stands will feature homemade potato pancakes and other delicacies. In addition, there will be an array of display stands that will offer German souvenirs.
Profits from the festival will be donated to the Fritz Reuter Altenheim Home and other charities.
There will be a German church service in the home chapel at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. Guided tours of the home will be conducted both days.
For more information on the celebration, call (201) 864-3245.