TRENTON – A Union County construction contractor whose companies had been barred from public contracts has been indicted on numerous criminal charges for allegedly using a stolen identity, a fictitious company, and fraudulent documents to successfully bid on public projects, including a project to restore the Clinton Town dam in Hunterdon County, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced Monday.
Joseph Budis, 61, of New Providence, was charged in an indictment that was returned late Friday and filed in court Monday. He was arrested in July, when Clinton Town police officers, who were investigating an incident in which a worker broke his leg at the Clinton dam site, learned that Budis, the project manager, was using the alias Joe DeLia. They subsequently discovered that two companies run by Budis, Murray Hill Enterprise Inc. and Murray Hill Equipment Inc., were prohibited from bidding on public contracts by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development because of prevailing wage violations and unpaid fines.
Further investigation by the State Police Official Corruption Bureau, Clinton Town Police Department and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau revealed that Budis allegedly stole the Social Security number of an acquaintance and used his identity to obtain a public works contractor registration certificate from the state for a sham company, listing the man as president of MHHC Corporation. Budis used the certificate to bid on the $673,240 dam contract, which was awarded to MHHC in April.
In connection with the contract, Budis allegedly filed bonds, a certificate of liability insurance and notarizations, all of which were fraudulent. He had no workers’ compensation insurance. Clinton Town was forced to re-bid the state-funded project, which resulted in additional costs.
“Time after time, this contractor allegedly engaged in fraud to obtain public construction contracts, concealing that he was barred from such contracts and did not have the required insurance or bonds,” said Dow. “In doing so, he put the workers he employed at risk, as well as the public entities that hired his companies.”
The investigation revealed that Budis allegedly used the stolen identity and fictitious corporation, MHHC, also known as Murray Hill Historical Corporation, to obtain two other public construction contracts.
In late 2008, MHHC was awarded a $98,060 contract to complete modifications to the Chatham Township Senior Center. In that case, Budis allegedly used a forged public works contractor registration certificate, because the state had not yet issued one for MHHC.
In addition, in June 2009, MHHC was awarded a $286,400 contract by the New Jersey Water Supply Authority (NJWSA) to do construction work on the Swan Creek Aqueduct Restoration Project. Budis allegedly submitted fraudulent bonds and a fraudulent certificate of liability insurance in connection with that contract. The NJWSA sustained losses when it was forced to dismiss Budis prior to completion of the project.
In addition, the indictment alleges that Budis submitted a fraudulent certificate of liability insurance and forged notarizations in bidding on a $222,330 bridge construction project in Hope Township which was awarded to Murray Hill Equipment Inc. in July 2006 by Warren County.
“In this era of diminished public resources, taxpayers cannot afford to pay more for government projects because of fraud on the part of contractors,” said Taylor. “We will remain vigilant to root out the type of corporate corruption alleged in this case.”
According to Taylor, Budis, MHHC Corporation and Murray Hill Equipment Inc. were charged in a 27-count state grand jury indictment obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Budis faces multiple counts of the following charges: making false representations for a government contract (2nd degree), theft by deception (2nd degree), attempted theft by deception (2nd degree), tampering with public records or information (3rd degree), and forgery (4th degree). He also faces one count each of identity theft (2nd degree), misconduct by a corporate official (2nd degree), and hindering apprehension (3rd degree).
Budis is charged with hindering his own apprehension for allegedly providing the false identity of Joe DeLia to a police officer investigating the workplace injury at the Clinton dam site.
Deputy Attorney General Steven J. Zweig presented the case to the grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The investigation was conducted and coordinated by Detective Mario E. Dirienzo of the State Police Official Corruption Bureau, Detective Sgt. Jay Hunter of the Clinton Town Police Department, and Deputy Attorney General Zweig.
Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine, while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Fourth-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. Budis could also be fined up to the total value of the public contracts wrongfully obtained, while the corporate defendants could face a fine of up to three times that amount.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Gerald J. Council in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Union County, where Budis and the corporate defendants will be ordered to appear in court at a later date to answer the charges. Budis posted $100,000 bail following his arrest in July and remains free.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!