Scandal Shocks Perth Amboy

Vas Collaborators

One Admits Guilt…

PERTH AMBOY — Jeffrey D. Gumbs, who was a top city administrator under former Mayor Joseph Vas, pleaded guilty Monday to theft, tampering with public records and the misapplication of the city’s property between April 2004 and November 2005.

Gumbs, who was the city’s director of human resources and supervisor of recreation for many years, pleaded guilty to stealing about $2,500 from taxpayers in the New Brunswick courtroom of Judge Frederick DeVesa.

Under the plea bargain, the state will recommend that Gumbs be sentenced on June 26 to probation, he must pay restitution to the city and he will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.

“Mr. Gumbs admitted that he helped the mayor to steal taxpayer funds,” said Attorney General Anne Milgram. “Joseph Vas used the city like his own piggybank.”

Gumbs is the fourth collaborator of Vas to be accused of crimes related to the former mayor.

Vas, who is an assemblyman, was indicted on numerous charges of theft of about $5,000 in city funds and conspiracy to rig a public lottery so that his aide, Anthony Jones, 48, won a chance to buy a two-family house through the Perth Amboy Home Program.

Jones was also charged in the same indictment as Vas, who served as mayor from 1990 to 2008.

In a letter to Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Joseph Spicuzzo, Vas said he will not seek re-election to his legislative seat this November.

When contacted, Board of Education member Austin E Gumbs described Jeffrey Gumbs as a distant cousin and said the defendant is now residing in Wilmington, Delaware.

Two Others Accused

PERTH AMBOY — Board of Education member Raymond J. Geneske, 73, was charged with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree official misconduct and third-degree money laundering in connection with his role who as chairman of the 2006 congressional campaign of former Mayor Joseph Vas.

Charged along with Geneske was Melvin Ramos, 53, a former mayoral aide who served as treasurer of Vas’ campaign.

The two Vas collaborators will be ordered to appear in Superior Court in Middlesex County to answer the charges, according to Attorney General Anne Milgram.

“Ray Geneske is facing 10 years in state prison and criminal fines of up to $315,000,” said Councilman Fernando Gonzalez. “It would be unreasonable for anyone to expect him to be a good role model for our children while facing such a severe penalty for these alleged crimes. He should remove himself from the Board of Education.”

Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni said that Ramos and Geneske solicited city employees and others to make fraudulent contributions to Vas’ 2006 campaign for Congress,  reimbursing them with cash for writing checks payable to “Vas for Congress.”

Vas, a state assemblyman, was indicted on numerous counts of conspiring to steal approximately $5,000 in city funds to pay for personal expenses during the time he held office as mayor.

Vas was also charged with rigging a public lottery so that his personal driver, Anthony S. Jones, won the opportunity to buy a house at a price below market value.

Ramos serves on the board for the Raritan Bay Area YMCA, housed in the new $80 million municipal building, and the Chamber of Commerce.  Geneske was appointed to the Middlesex County Improvement Authority.

“My administration has zero tolerance for anyone in city government who violates the trust and confidence of the people that we are here to serve,” said Mayor Wilda Diaz in a statement.

Vas Won’t Quit

When Middlesex County political boss Joe Spicuzzo learned of Assemblyman Joseph Vas’s indictment, he urged the official to resign as the municipal Democratic Party chairman.

That suggestion has been rejected.

Gov. Jon Corzine has said he wants him to resign from the State Legislature, but although Vas dropped his re-election campaign for to a fourth Assembly term he will not step aside.

“I told him it would be better for all concerned if he did resign,” said Spicuzzo. “He told me he’s done nothing wrong and does not intend to give up his chairmanship.”

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