TRENTON –A former recreation supervisor for Perth Amboy was sentenced to community service and probation for stealing city funds which she said she used for purchases for herself and former Mayor Joseph Vas, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.
According to Taylor, Ana Pastrana, 50, of Perth Amboy, was sentenced yesterday to five years of probation by Superior Court Judge Frederick P. DeVesa in Middlesex County. She was ordered to pay $11,875 in restitution to the City of Perth Amboy and to serve 100 hours of community service. Pastrana was required to forfeit her city job and is permanently barred from public employment.
Deputy Attorney General Dianne C. DiGiamber Deal and Deputy Attorney General Pearl Minato represented the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau at the sentencing.
Pastrana pleaded guilty on March 30 to third-degree theft by unlawful taking. In pleading guilty, Pastrana admitted that she used city funds to pay off a credit card in her name that was used to purchase personal items for herself and Vas.
The credit card bills were paid using funds from a bank account for the Perth Amboy Housing Development Corporation that was under the control of Jeffrey D. Gumbs Sr., who was city director of human services and superintendent of recreation under Vas. Pastrana said that, at Vas’ direction, she used city funds to pay for credit card purchases of sneakers, beachwear and sportswear for Vas.
On March 23, 2009, Gumbs, 51, of Wilmington, Del., pleaded guilty before DeVesa to theft, misapplication of government property and tampering with public records. He admitted he submitted fraudulent invoices to the city to obtain payment for personal expenses of both Vas and himself. His sentencing is pending.
Vas, 55, a former New Jersey assemblyman, was indicted by the Division of Criminal Justice on March 11, 2009 in connection with those allegations. He was charged with conspiring with city employees to steal approximately $5,000 in funds of the City of Perth Amboy to pay for personal purchases and expenses. The indictment also charged Vas and his personal driver, Anthony S. Jones, in connection with a scheme in which Vas allegedly rigged a public lottery so Jones won the opportunity to buy an affordable two-family home through the Perth Amboy Home Program. The charges in the indictment are pending.
On May 21, 2009, Vas was charged in a second 19-count indictment along with his longtime aide Melvin Ramos, 53, two corporations that were city vendors, and two owners of one of the corporations. The indictment alleges, among other things, that Vas and Ramos solicited city employees and others to make fraudulent contributions to Vas’ 2006 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.
It further alleges Vas and Ramos unlawfully arranged for a city contractor to pay a $58,000 catering bill for a ribbon cutting ceremony at Perth Amboy’s new Public Safety-Court-Community Complex in April 2008. They allegedly had the contractor bill the amount to the city under its contract to provide management services for construction of the new complex, thereby concealing the city’s payment of the catering bill. The charges in that indictment are also pending.
On June 5, 2009, a key advisor to Vas’ 2006 congressional campaign, Raymond Geneske, 74, of Perth Amboy, pleaded guilty before DeVesa to a third-degree charge of money laundering. He admitted that he solicited employees of the City of Perth Amboy and others to make fraudulent contributions to Vas’ campaign. His sentencing is pending.
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