Farinola's name had been mentioned in connection with several indictments of North Bergen officials last year, with sources saying that he was the one who cooperated with federal authorities.
The 41-year-old North Bergen native and Ridgefield resident told U.S. District Judge Joseph Greenaway that there are unnamed others that he also paid off with cash and personal favors that have yet to be named or prosecuted, according to court papers received from the office of U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.
Farinola finally faced his day in court on Monday, admitting to mail fraud charges that he overbilled the town and the North Bergen Municipal Utilities Authority by falsely inflating the number of hours worked as well as inflating the material costs needed for each respective job.
Farinola also admitted to Greenaway that he made illegal payments in the form of cash, free construction work and other benefits in order to keep those contracts intact with both the township and the MUA.
It was apparently Farinola who gave evidence that helped lead to guilty pleas from former Commissioner Peter Perez, former township administrator Joseph Auriemma (who was a good friend of Farinola), former MUA purchasing agent Joseph Hernandez and former deputy public safety director Vincent Zappulla.
Farinola said in court last week that he had arranged illegal deals (cash and work) with the four aforementioned men.
All four have already pleaded guilty to federal corruption and fraud charges. Zappulla received a sentence of probation and a period of house arrest, as well as a fine. Perez, Auriemma and Hernandez have yet to receive sentencing.
Earned $2.6 million
Farinola's Fresco Air Systems, Inc. earned approximately $2.6 million in revenue from the township and the MUA between the years 1993 and 2001.
According to court papers released by Christie, Farinola concocted the schemes that enabled the officials to receive payments, as long as they continued to award him service contracts. He admitted that he had made up for the cost of the illegal payments to officials by overcharging on contracts.
Court papers further state that Farinola, in or about October 1994, gave a check in the amount of $6,000 to Hernandez "for his personal benefit," and that the payment was concealed by making the check payable to the fiancée of Hernandez for her "secretarial services."
In or about early 1997, Zappulla directed Farinola to draft a bogus "letter-receipt" stating that Zappulla had paid Farinola $52,385 for construction work on a building owned by Laundry Time, Inc., a Bergenline Avenue cleaning and laundry service owned by Zappulla's daughter.
The actual amount paid to Farinola was, according to the court documents, "substantially less than $52,385. This false letter-receipt subsequently was submitted to State Farm Insurance Company in support of a fraudulent claim for reimbursement," the document reads.
Christie's report also showed that in or about October, 1997, Farinola provided for free renovations valued at approximately $15,700 to Perez's North Bergen residence.
The report also showed that in or about March, 2000, Farinola gave Auriemma a free heat pump air conditioning/heating unit, valued at approximately $3,286, for his friend's summer home in Wildwood - a site where Farinola and Auriemma vacationed together for several years.
Once again, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Clark, the lead investigator on the entire case, would not comment on Farinola's plea or any other details of the case, simply stating that the "investigation is ongoing."
Farinola faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, he is expected to receive a lesser sentence for cooperating with the federal officials.
Farinola will appear in court on June 16 to receive his sentence.
In connection with his plea, Farinola agreed to make restitution for the losses associated with his fraud scheme, in an amount of $369,592.
Neither Farinola nor his attorney, Pasquale Giannetta of Wayne, returned phone calls by press time last week. Mayor Nicholas Sacco refused to comment on Farinola's plea. Township spokesman Paul Swibinski offered a statement on behalf of the mayor.
"We have said all along that the case involves one corrupt contractor and his small group of friends and officials," Swibinski said. "Every single person who has been involved in the case has been removed or retired. This administration has a zero tolerance for corruption, and if other public officials are found guilty in this case, then they should start packing their bags right now. There's a new management team in place. The town is moving forward. We want to put this matter behind us as quickly as possible."