Corporation Involved In Vas Scandal Pleads Guilty

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TRENTON – A corporation that was contracted by the City of Perth Amboy during the administration of former Mayor Joseph Vas pleaded guilty today to performing thousands of dollars worth of free masonry and paving work at the mayor’s house, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.

According to Taylor, Jenicar Builders Contractors Co., Inc., pleaded guilty through its corporate president to a charge of third-degree conspiracy to commit official misconduct before Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr. in Monmouth County. The charge was 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.

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In pleading guilty, the company admitted that between May and November 2002, it performed approximately $25,000 in work at the home of Mayor Vas, free of charge. The work included constructing paver walkways, a paver driveway, a paver patio, a concrete foundation for a shed, brick columns, a cement sidewalk, and a cut-stone window border. Jenicar Builders Contractors, which is based in Newark and Kearny, was a vendor for the City of Perth Amboy at the time.

Under the plea agreement, the company will be required to pay a $45,000 fine, and its principals will be required to cooperate in the ongoing prosecution. Deputy Attorneys General Dianne C. DiGiamber Deal and Pearl Minato took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Judge Mellaci scheduled sentencing for Feb. 18.

On Aug. 3, three other defendants who were charged in the May 21, 2009 indictment pleaded guilty. Two contractors, Frank Dominguez, 46, of Chester, and Richard Briggs, 50, of Long Valley, pleaded guilty to third-degree misconduct by a corporate official for submitting a false invoice to the City of Perth Amboy. Their company, Imperial Construction Group Inc. of Pine Brook, pleaded guilty to third-degree submission of false payment claims under a government contract. The defendants admitted that they submitted the false invoice, allegedly at the direction of Vas, so that they could obtain payment from the city secretly reimbursing them for a $58,006 catering bill they paid at the mayor’s request. The bill was for a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 19, 2008 at the new Perth Amboy Public Safety-Court-Community Complex.

The state will recommend that Dominguez and Briggs each be sentenced to five years of probation. They are scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 18, 2011. 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.

Charges are still pending against Vas and Ramos. Vas, who also is a former New Jersey Assemblyman, faces multiple second-degree counts of conspiracy and official misconduct.


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