TRENTON – A Union County construction contractor pleaded guilty Friday to 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, when his companies were barred from such projects, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.
Joseph Budis, 61, of New Providence, pleaded guilty to two second-degree counts of making false representations for government contracts before Superior Court Judge Stephen B. Rubin in Hunterdon County. One count relates to the Clinton Dam, and the second, to a bridge project in Hope Township. The charges were contained in an Oct. 29, 2010 indictment that also named his companies, MHHC Corporation and Murray Hill Equipment, Inc. The companies pleaded guilty today to the same counts, MHHC to the count involving the Clinton Dam, and Murray Hill to the count involving the Hope Township bridge.
“This contractor fraudulently concealed that he was barred from public contracts and did not have the required insurance or bonds to perform them. As a result, he put workers at risk and imposed thousands of dollars in additional costs on taxpayers,” said Dow. “This guilty plea ensures that he will face a state prison term and a major monetary penalty.”
Budis was arrested in July 2010, 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 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, also known as Murray Hill Historical Corporation. Budis used the certificate to bid on the $673,240 dam contract, which was awarded to MHHC in April 2010.
In connection with the contract, Budis 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.
In addition, Budis submitted a fraudulent certificate of liability insurance and forged notarizations in bidding on the $222,330 bridge rehabilitation project in Hope Township, which was awarded to Murray Hill Equipment Inc. in July 2006 by Warren County.
Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Budis be sentenced to state prison. The state can recommend a maximum sentence of five years. Budis and MHHC Corporation are required under the plea to pay restitution to the Town of Clinton of $44,174, representing the losses the town sustained as a result of the fraud. In addition, those two defendants will face a public corruption profiteering penalty of at least $250,000 and up to a maximum of $2,019,720 (three times the value of the Clinton Dam contract) to be determined by the judge. All three defendants will be barred from public contracts for a period of 10 years beginning today.
Rubin scheduled sentencing for June 10.
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