TRENTON – A top city official in Perth Amboy under former Mayor Joseph Vas was sentenced to jail today and a second man who led Vas’ 2006 congressional campaign was sentenced to probation in connection with charges filed by the Division of Criminal Justice, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.
According to Taylor, Jeffrey D. Gumbs Sr., 51, of Wilmington, Del., who served as Perth Amboy’s director of human services and superintendent of recreation under Vas, was sentenced to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of five years of probation by Superior Court Judge Frederick P. DeVesa in Middlesex County. Gumbs pleaded guilty last year to theft, misapplication of government property and tampering with public records.
Gumbs admitted that he submitted fraudulent invoices to the city on behalf of Vas to obtain payment for personal expenses of the mayor. Gumbs also admitted that he stole city funds for personal expenses of his own by submitting false invoices. He was ordered to pay $1,200 to the City of Perth Amboy as restitution for a false invoice he submitted for a basketball camp for his son. He will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.
Also today, DeVesa sentenced Raymond Geneske, 74, of Perth Amboy, to three years of probation. Geneske pleaded guilty last year to third-degree money laundering. He was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.
Geneske admitted that he solicited employees of the City of Perth Amboy and others to make fraudulent contributions to Vas’ 2006 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives for the 13th Congressional District. At the time, Geneske was chairman of the Perth Amboy Democratic Committee and was a key advisor to the Vas campaign. Geneske admitted that he paid cash to the people he solicited to reimburse them for writing personal checks payable to the campaign. Geneske said he was given a total of $30,000 in cash, and distributed $25,000 or more through payments to straw contributors. He said that, under Vas’ direction, he distributed the remaining $4,000 to $5,000 for get out the vote efforts for the campaign.
Deputy Attorney General Dianne C. DiGiamber Deal represented the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau at the sentencing hearing.
On March 10, Judge DeVesa sentenced Ana Pastrana, 50, a former recreation supervisor for the City of Perth Amboy, to five years of probation. 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.
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 former mayor 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 Gumbs. Pastrana said that, at Vas’ direction, she used city funds to pay for credit card purchases of sneakers, beachwear and sportswear for Vas.
Vas, 55, who is also a former New Jersey assemblyman, was indicted by the Division of Criminal Justice on March 11, 2009. 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 charges 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, 54, 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.
All of the charges stem from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Deputy Attorneys General Dianne C. DiGiamber Deal and Pearl Minato are prosecuting the cases. The investigation was led by Sgt. Dino Dettorre and Detective Benjamin Kukis, assisted by Lt. Daniel O’Brien, Sgt. Robert McGrath, Detective Lee Bailey, Detective Melissa Calkin, Detective Lisa Cawley, Detective Shaun Egan, Detective Kiersten Pentony, Detective Robert Stemmer and Civil Investigator Joseph Salvatore.
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