– Acting Attorney General Ricardo Solano
Jr. and Criminal Justice Director Deborah
L. Gramiccioni announced that suspended Department
of Corrections administrator Gerald T. Kennedy
pleaded guilty today to orchestrating a bid
rigging and kickback scheme involving hundreds
of thousands of dollars in state contracts.
to Director Gramiccioni, Kennedy, 47, of Red
Bank, pleaded guilty before Superior Court
Judge Ira E. Kreizman in Monmouth County to
a second-degree charge of conspiracy to commit
various crimes, including official misconduct,
bribery, money laundering, theft by deception,
making false representations for government
contracts, and use of a corporation for the
furtherance of a criminal object. The charge
was contained in an April 2, 2008 indictment.
the plea agreement, the state will recommend
that Kennedy be sentenced to seven years in
state prison. He must disgorge $80,000 in
kickbacks he received and pay a fine in an
amount to be set by the judge. He is required
to forfeit his job and will be permanently
barred from public employment in New Jersey.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 5.
official manipulated the government contracting
process to enrich himself and his friends,
at the expense of the State of New Jersey
and its taxpayers,” said Acting Attorney
General Ricardo Solano Jr. “We have
no tolerance for this type of betrayal of
the public trust.”
Attorneys General Steven J. Zweig and Pearl
Minato took the guilty plea for the Division
of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.
pleading guilty, Kennedy admitted that between
December 2002 and March 2006, he steered more
than $630,000 in state contracts to three
companies that were owned by friends. As Assistant
Director of the DOC Division of Operations,
in charge of the Capital Planning & Construction
Unit, Kennedy had control over soliciting
bids and selecting contractors for small capital
projects costing under $41,100.
admitted he steered state contracts totaling
approximately $348,000 to Pro General Contracting
Inc., aka Pro Painting & General Contracting
Inc. Another defendant in the case, Jasher
Guerrero Ramos, was listed in corporate records
as owner of Pro Painting. However, Kennedy
actually controlled the company. Kennedy admitted
he received approximately $40,000 in kickbacks
on those contracts with the help of Guerrero
Ramos and another man, Ronald Hayes. Both
Guerrero Ramos and Hayes have pleaded guilty
in the scheme.
Ramos funneled cash back to Kennedy through
Hayes by writing checks to Hayes as if Hayes
performed work for Pro Painting, when he did
not actually perform any work for the company.
Hayes would keep just 5 to 10 percent of the
amount of each check and give the rest of
the money directly to Kennedy.
admitted that he received more than $34,000
in kickbacks on state contracts totaling $128,850
that he awarded to SBC Construction Inc.,
the company of another friend, Alfred “Buddy”
Canale. Canale has also pleaded guilty.
Kennedy admitted that he steered approximately
$153,000 in state contracts to a third company,
SteelGrey LLC, which was owned by his friend
Mark Stermer, 43, of Red Bank, who was charged
in the same indictment. The charges against
Stermer are pending. A full list of charges
can be found with the April 3, 2008 press
release at www.njpublicsafety.com. The indictment
is merely an accusation and Stermer is presumed
innocent until proven guilty.
Kennedy was required to seek bids from at
least three pre-qualified contractors, he
frequently solicited bids exclusively from
the companies he and his friends controlled,
and he often dictated the amount of each bid
so he could award the contract as he desired.
The contracts were for masonry, painting,
"skirting" of a trailer, roofing
repairs and other general projects.
Department of Corrections reported suspected
irregularities in the bidding process on small
capital projects to the Division of Criminal
Justice in early 2006.
must ensure that government officials act
exclusively in the public interest, not in
their own self-interest,” said Director
Gramiccioni. “Through investigations
and prosecutions such as this one, we are
working to deter dishonest behavior by public
officials and encourage those with information
about corruption to report it to the Division
of Criminal Justice.”
Ramos pleaded guilty on Dec. 14, 2009 to bribery,
a second-degree crime. The state will recommend
that he be sentenced to five years in state
prison. Canale pleaded guilty to bribery on
Dec. 21, 2007. The state will recommend that
he be sentenced to three years in prison.
Hayes pleaded guilty on Nov. 26, 2007 to a
third-degree charge of offering an unlawful
benefit to a public servant for official behavior.
Another man, Delfim Rodrigues, pleaded guilty
on Feb. 28, 2008 to the same charge as Hayes.
Rodrigues company, DEL ROD Inc., was a subcontractor
on the SBC Construction contracts, and Rodrigues
admitted providing kickbacks to Kennedy. The
state will recommend that Hayes and Rodrigues
be sentenced to probation.
Attorneys General Steven J. Zweig and Pearl
Minato are prosecuting the case. The investigation
was conducted and coordinated by Lt. Keith
Lerner, Detective Paul Marfino and Deputy
Attorney General Zweig of the Division of
Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, assisted
by Senior Investigator Manuel Alfonso of the
Department of Corrections, Special Investigations
Division, who was sworn in as a special investigator
for the Division of Criminal Justice.
Gramiccioni noted that the Division of Criminal
Justice Corruption Bureau has established
a toll-free Corruption Tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ.
The public can also log on to the Division’s
Web site www.njdcj.org
to confidentially report suspected wrongdoing.