A former executive and shareholder of Birdsall Services Group (“BSG”) pleaded guilty to participating in a criminal scheme in which more than $1 million in corporate political contributions were illegally made through firm employees to evade New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws.
Nine former executives, shareholders and managers of BSG have pleaded guilty in the scheme, along with the engineering firm itself, which is no longer in business. The assets of BSG were acquired by Partner Engineering and Science, Inc. in June 2013
Alan Hilla, 77, of Jupiter, Fla., pleaded guilty today to a charge of second-degree misconduct by a corporate official before Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels in Ocean County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that he be sentenced to five years in state prison.
Hilla indicated he plans to apply for a suspended sentence, citing health issues. Hilla is the final defendant in the case against BSG and nine of its top executives, shareholders and employees. Judge Daniels scheduled sentencing for September 1, 2017.
Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione, Chief of the Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorneys General Mallory Shanahan, Brian Faulk and Charles Wright are prosecuting the case and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice.
The charge was contained in a March 26, 2013 indictment, which also charged BSG and six other executives and shareholders.
Two other defendants pleaded guilty pre-indictment. The charges stemmed from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, which found that the defendants conspired to avoid the restrictions of New Jersey’s Pay-to-Play laws by disguising illegal corporate political contributions as personal contributions of employees.
“The many guilty pleas we have secured in this case hammer home an important message that criminal schemes aimed at evading New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws will be met with stern punishment,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Our laws prevent politically connected firms from garnering public contracts based on campaign contributions, but Birdsall’s executives gamed the system and secured millions of dollars in contracts for which they should have been disqualified.”
“My office recently announced two anti-corruption programs – a reward program offering up to $25,000 for tips about public corruption, as well as a whistleblower program that allows lower-level participants in a corruption scheme to potentially avoid prosecution by self-reporting,” Attorney General Porrino added. “I urge people to help us and help themselves by taking advantage of these programs, which expire on August 1.”
“New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws seek to ensure fair and open public contracting, free of the sway of political interests,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “By criminally prosecuting this firm and sending many of its top executives to prison, we have given those laws real teeth.”
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