TRENTON – Attorney
General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice
Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that
a former administrator at the University
of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
was sentenced to prison today for accepting
expensive gifts from a contractor to whom
he steered numerous university contracts.
The contractor was also sentenced today
as a result of an investigation by the State
Commission of Investigation and the Division
of Criminal Justice.
According to Director Taylor,
Frank X. Watts, 59, of Oxford, the former
director of the physical plant at UMDNJ,
was sentenced to three years in state prison
by Superior Court Judge Thomas V. Manahan
in Morris County. Watts was required under
his plea agreement to pay a penalty of $17,000,
representing the value of the gifts, and
he will be permanently barred from public
employment in New Jersey. Watts pleaded
guilty on Dec. 2 to second-degree official
misconduct, a charge contained in a March
31, 2009 state grand jury indictment.
In pleading guilty, Watts
admitted that he accepted a gift from the
contractor of a sun room, worth approximately
$15,000, that was built around a large wooden
deck at his home in 2002. The state’s
investigation revealed that the contractor
also paid for the $2,000 deck. Watts further
admitted that he hired the contractor for
numerous UMDNJ contracts.
“Officials who award
government contracts have a duty to single-mindedly
serve the public interest, not their own
interests or the interests of favored contractors,”
said Attorney General Dow. “This administrator
is going to prison because he violated that
duty and broke the law.”
“We have made prosecuting
corruption a top priority and will continue
to aggressively pursue public officials
who unlawfully use their positions for personal
gain,” said Director Taylor.
The case was investigated
by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation,
which referred it to the Division of Criminal
Justice Corruption Bureau in May 2007. Deputy
Attorney General Michael A. Monahan prosecuted
the case and represented the state at the
The contractor, Daniel Cesario,
51, of East Hanover, was sentenced today
to two years of probation by Judge Manahan.
Cesario and his company, Cesario Construction
Inc., pleaded guilty on Oct. 21 to misconduct
by a corporate official. Cesario admitted
he paid for the sun room in exchange for
Watts helping him to secure contracts.
Under his plea agreement,
Cesario paid $15,980 in restitution to the
state, representing alleged overbilling
on UMDNJ contracts. Cesario did not admit
the overbilling in pleading guilty. Cesario
and his company will be excluded from state
government contracts in New Jersey for five
years. The company was also ordered to pay
a $45,000 fine.
State investigators determined
that Cesario received nearly $2.9 million
from UMDNJ for work that was steered to
Cesario Construction by Watts during the
last seven years that he was director. Cesario
Construction did a variety of work for the
university, including construction, plumbing,
snow removal and HVAC maintenance.
As director of the physical
plant, Watts had oversight over the hiring
of contractors. Investigators found that
Watts frequently did not follow proper procedures
for public contracts. Cesario Construction
was repeatedly hired for jobs on an emergency
basis, without engaging in a bidding process,
even when there was no emergency.
Attorney General Dow thanked
the SCI for its investigation and referral.
Special Agent Michael Dancisin
investigated the case for the SCI. Detective
Robert Stemmer and Civil Investigator Joseph
Salvatore investigated for the Division
of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, in
coordination with former Assistant Attorney
General Lewis Korngut.
Watts retired from UMDNJ
in June 2006 while this matter was under
General Dow and Director Taylor noted that
the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption
Bureau has established a toll-free Corruption
Tipline for the public to report corruption,
financial crime and other illegal activities.
The statewide Corruption Tipline is 1-866-TIPS-4CJ.
Additionally, the public can log on to the
Division of Criminal Justice Web page at
to report suspected wrongdoing. All information
received through the Division of Criminal
Justice Corruption Tipline or Web page will