Another Vas Collaborator Guilty

Plea shows taint infects school system

PERTH AMBOY—Ana Pestrana, a part-time assistant recreation supervisor who is employed full-time by the city’s school district, became the second municipal employee to plead guilty to charges of using city funds to purchase items for former Mayor Joseph Vas.

Pestrana admitted in court on Monday that she used city funds to buy sneakers, beach wear and other clothing for Vas, submitting credit card receipts for those items to the Perth Amboy Housing Development Corporation between Aug. 1, 2005 and July 1, 2006.

Pestrana agreed to give up the school job as part of her plea bargain. Superior Court Judge Frederick De Vesa agreed to let her finish the year as a special education teacher at the Shull Middle School, noting that she has agreed to testify against Vas and other defendants.

Pestrana is the sixth Vas collaborator charged by the state as a result of an extensive probe into corruption.

Vas, an assemblyman, was indicted on charges of stealing $5,000 in city funds and with rigging a housing lottery to benefit his driver, Anthony Jones.

Vas’ lawyer said he would plead not guilty and the lawmaker’s first appearance in court was scheduled for Wednesday, April 1.

School board member Raymond Geneske and former Vas campaign treasurer Melvin Ramos were accused of money laundering by state officials acting without a grand jury indictment.

Jeffrey Gumbs, a former city official who school board member Austin Gumbs recently described as a distant cousin, pleaded guilty to theft, tampering with public records and the misapplication of the city’s property between April 2004 and November 2005.

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