TRENTON – A Union County construction contractor was sentenced to state prison today for using a stolen identity, a fictitious company, and fraudulent documents to successfully bid on public projects when his companies were legally barred from such projects, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced. The projects included a contract to restore the Clinton Town dam in Hunterdon County.
According to Taylor, Joseph Budis, 61, of New Providence, was sentenced to four years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Stephen B. Rubin in Hunterdon County. Budis pleaded guilty on March 18 to two second-degree counts of making false representations for government contracts. One count related to the Clinton Dam, and the second, to a bridge project in Hope Township. He was charged in an Oct. 29, 2010 indictment that also named his companies, MHHC Corporation and Murray Hill Equipment, Inc. The companies pleaded guilty to the same counts: MHHC to the count involving the Clinton Dam, and Murray Hill to the count involving the Hope Township bridge.
Budis and MHHC Corporation were ordered 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, Budis and MHHC were ordered to pay a public corruption profiteering penalty of $250,000. All three defendants are barred from public contracts for a period of 10 years.
“This contractor engaged in one deception after another, putting workers at risk and costing the taxpayers in these municipalities thousands of dollars,” said Dow. “Prison is the appropriate punishment for this type of fraud.”
“With millions of dollars spent by local taxpayers each year on municipal projects, we cannot afford to allow dishonest operators such as this one to work on these contracts,” said Taylor. “We urge anyone with information about fraud involving public projects to call the Division of Criminal Justice. We will thoroughly investigate any confidential leads we receive.”
Deputy Attorney General Steven J. Zweig prosecuted the case for the Division of Criminal Justice. The investigation was conducted and coordinated by Detective Mario E. Dirienzo of the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau, Detective Sgt. Jay Hunter of the Clinton Town Police Department, and Deputy Attorney General Zweig.
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.
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