TRENTON – The former supervisor at the state Department of Treasury’s First Avenue warehouse in Hamilton was convicted at trial today of stealing surplus equipment from the warehouse, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced.
David Winkler, 51, of Bordentown, was convicted by a Mercer County jury following a two-week trial before Superior Court Judge Robert C. Billmeier in Trenton. He was found guilty of conspiracy (2nd degree), official misconduct (2nd degree), theft by unlawful taking (3rd degree), and misapplication of entrusted property and property of government (3rd degree). Winkler’s bail was revoked after the verdict and he was remanded into state custody. Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione, Deputy Chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Analisa Holmes tried the case for the Division of Criminal Justice.
The state presented testimony and evidence that Winkler ran a scheme in which he and other employees illicitly sold more than $24,000 in scrap metal and divided the proceeds between July 2005 and April 2007. Winkler has been suspended from his state job since his arrest in April 2008.
“This state supervisor took advantage of his position by stealing public property for himself and others,” said Chiesa. “There’s no room in government for people who violate the law and exploit their authority and the public’s trust for personal gain.”
“This former warehouse supervisor now faces a state prison sentence,” said Director Stephen J. Taylor of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This verdict should deter other public employees who would consider misappropriating government property. I commend the attorneys and detectives who handled this case for the Division of Criminal Justice and the State Police.”
Winkler is scheduled to be sentenced on March 6. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Four other former warehouse employees previously pleaded guilty in the scrap metal scheme. They are James Mate, 52, of Yardville; Dominick Mangine, 48, of Jackson; William Gawroski III, 37, of Hamilton; and Thomas Sundstrom, 70, of Southampton. Mate pleaded guilty to second-degree official misconduct and was sentenced to three years in prison. Mangine pleaded guilty to third-degree pattern of official misconduct and was sentenced to 364 days in jail as a condition of two years of probation. Gawroski pleaded guilty to third-degree pattern of official misconduct and is awaiting sentencing. He faces probation. Sundstrom pleaded guilty to third-degree official misconduct. He is awaiting sentencing and faces 364 days in jail as a condition of probation under his plea agreement. Each of those four men forfeited his state job and was ordered to pay restitution of $24,292.
The charges resulted from a year-long investigation by the New Jersey State Police that commenced when Treasury officials obtained information that Gawroski was taking illegal payments from a recycling company in return for helping the company to secure more valuable equipment in auctions of surplus state computer equipment. The probe quickly expanded to include evidence that employees at the warehouse were taking home state-owned computers and that Winkler and other employees were taking surplus metal equipment to a non-approved recycler, selling it for cash as scrap metal, and splitting the money. The surplus metal items sold as scrap included desks, filing cabinets and other furniture and equipment.
Scrap metal from the warehouse is supposed to go to one recycling company that has a contract with the state to buy it. The company credits the state for each load and pays Treasury by check. Gawroski, Mangine and Mate admitted they participated in a scheme with Winkler in which they took the scrap metal to another recycling company in Trenton, which paid up to several hundred dollars in cash per load that was divided among the men. The testimony and evidence showed that Winkler, as supervisor, was in charge of this scheme and gave orders to the others.
The investigation was conducted by Lt. Keith Dangler, Detective Sgt. 1st Class John Cappetta and Detective Sgt. Vincent Greene of the New Jersey State Police State Governmental Security Bureau Investigations Unit. Deputy Attorney General Picione presented the case to the state grand jury and has prosecuted the other defendants.