According to a statement issued by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, the owner of a general contracting company in West New York was arrested at home in North Bergen on May 21 by special agents of the FBI.
Victor Coca, 48, of North Bergen, is charged by criminal complaint with one count of paying a bribe to a local government agent.
According to the complaint, two West New York buildings – one owned by Coca and one owned by a friend of his – had outstanding fines for fire code violations. Coca’s friend’s building – called “Building 1” in the complaint – had approximately $14,500 in fines, and Coca’s building – called “Building 2” in the complaint – had approximately $8.73 million in outstanding fines and penalties.
Coca allegedly wanted to pay a West New York Bureau of Fire Prevention official – who is cooperating with the government – cash bribes to reduce or eliminate the outstanding fines, paying $2,000 to eliminate the $14,500 debt on Building one. For Building 2, Coca allegedly paid a $5,000 cash bribe to the official, making the amount due to the West New York Bureau of Fire Prevention only the initial fine amount of $5,000.
“The actions taken by the town fire code official are praise worthy and what should be expected of those we entrust to serve the public,” said Mayor Felix Roque.
Freeholder Jose Munoz also praised the fire code official in a statement.
The charge carries maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense.