TRENTON – Two contractors and their company pleaded guilty today to submitting a false invoice to the City of Perth Amboy, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.
The invoice allegedly was submitted at the direction of former Mayor Joseph Vas so that the defendants could obtain payment from the city that secretly reimbursed them for a catering bill they paid at the mayor’s request.
According to Taylor, Frank Dominguez, 46, of Chester, and Richard Briggs, 50, of Long Valley, pleaded guilty to third-degree misconduct by a corporate official before Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr. in Monmouth County. The company they own and operate, Imperial Construction Group Inc. of Pine Brook, pleaded guilty to third-degree submission of false payment claims under a government contract.
The charges were contained in a May 21, 2009 indictment obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice, which also charged Vas and his longtime aide, Melvin Ramos. The company pleaded guilty to an amended charge.
Imperial Construction was contracted as a city vendor for the City of Perth Amboy under Mayor Vas, who also is a former New Jersey Assemblyman. In pleading guilty, Dominguez, who is company president, and Briggs, who is vice president, said that, at the request of Vas and Ramos, they had Imperial Construction pay a $58,006 catering bill for a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 19, 2008 at the new Perth Amboy Public Safety-Court-Community Complex.
Dominguez and Briggs admitted that they added the cost of the catering bill to an invoice that Imperial Construction submitted to the city under its contract to provide project management services for the construction of the new complex. Vas and Ramos allegedly approved the invoice, concealing the city’s payment for the catering services, which were not bid and authorized in compliance with state law on local contracts.
The state will recommend that Dominguez and Briggs each be sentenced to five years of probation. The two men and Imperial Construction will be barred from public contracts in New Jersey for five years. The defendants will be jointly and severally liable for paying restitution to the City of Perth Amboy of $58,006. They must cooperate fully in the ongoing prosecution.
Deputy Attorney General Dianne C. DiGiamber Deal took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Mellaci scheduled sentencing for Feb. 18, 2011.
The charges are still pending against Vas, Ramos and the other corporate defendant named in the 19-count state grand jury indictment, Jenicar Builders Contractors Co., Inc. Vas faces multiple second-degree counts of conspiracy and official misconduct, among other charges.
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