Global Navigation
Office of The Attorney General
The State of New Jersey Office of The Attorney General (Dept. of Law & Public Safety) The State of New Jersey NJ Home Services A to Z Departments/Agencies OAG Frequently Asked Questions
Services A to Z Departments/Agencies OAG Frequently Asked Questions
OAG Home
OAG Contact
Back to News Releases
OAG Home Attorney General's Biography
Attorney General's Biography
spacer spacer spacer
 
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
For Immediate Release:
For Further Information:

October 12, 2011

Office of The Attorney General
- Paula T. Dow, Attorney General 
Division of Criminal Justice
- Stephen J. Taylor, Director
Media Inquiries-
Peter Aseltine
609-292-4791

Citizen Inquiries-
609-292-4925
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer

School District Engineer Pleads Guilty to Rigging Bids,
Inflating School Contracts & Taking Illegal Kickbacks
Charges pending against 3 contractors and business administrator for Westfield schools

spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer
Photo of Kenneth Disko - Click to Enlarge
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer

TRENTON – Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that an engineer who oversaw construction projects for three school districts pleaded guilty today to taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks on contracts he recommended that involved rigged bids and fraudulently inflated costs. Charges are pending against the suspended business administrator for the Westfield School District and three contractors who were charged along with the engineer in March.

According to Director Taylor, Kenneth Disko, 48, of Mountainside, pleaded guilty today before Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue in Union County to an accusation charging him with the second-degree offense of making false representations for a government contract. In pleading guilty, Disko admitted that he orchestrated a series of bid-rigging and kickback schemes from 2001 to 2010 as the contracted engineer or engineer/architect on record for the Westfield, Tinton Falls and Scotch Plains-Fanwood school districts.

Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Disko be sentenced to three to five years in state prison. The state will also recommend that he be ordered to pay a penalty of at least $50,000 into the state’s Anti-Trust Revolving Fund for anti-trust enforcement efforts. Disko will be barred from public contracts in New Jersey for 10 years. He must cooperate fully in the ongoing investigation and prosecution by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Vincent J. Militello took the guilty plea.

“School districts and taxpayers can’t afford to pay more for goods and services because corrupt officials such as this defendant inflate contracts and build in kickbacks for their personal enrichment,” said Attorney General Dow. “We will continue to root out public corruption through this type of investigation and prosecution.”

“Our message is clear,” said Director Taylor. “We will aggressively prosecute public officials who unlawfully serve themselves at the expense of the taxpayers they are sworn to serve.”

Judge Donohue scheduled sentencing for Disko for Jan. 20.

The state’s investigation revealed that Disko knowingly prepared fraudulent quotes and estimates in connection with school district contracts, and directed contractors to inflate quotes and estimates. He admitted that he submitted those quotes and estimates to the three school districts and recommended approval of the fraudulently bid contracts in exchange for thousands of dollars in kickbacks from contractors.

Three contractors were charged by complaint on March 9, 2011 with making false contract payment claims (2nd degree):

  • John Sangiuliano, 57, of Scotch Plains, co-owner of Metropolitan Metal Window Company;
  • Martin W. Starr, 45, of Cliffwood Beach, owner of Starr Contracting; and
  • Stephen M. Gallagher, 50, of Cliffwood Beach, owner of East Commercial Construction and Tara Construction.

In addition, Westfield School District Business Administrator and Board Secretary Robert A. Berman, 55, of South Plainfield, was charged by complaint on that date with second-degree bribery for allegedly accepting over $13,000 worth of window glass and doors installed at his home by Metropolitan from 2004 to 2008, in return for making written recommendations that the Westfield Board of Education appoint Metropolitan as the district’s “contractor of record.” Berman was suspended by the Westfield School District after the charge was filed.

The charges against Berman, Sangiuliano, Starr and Gallagher are pending. Second-degree charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The charges will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.

The investigation was led by Deputy Attorney General Militello, Sgt. Lisa Shea and Detective Michael Behar of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

It is alleged that, in bidding on contracts for the Westfield and Tinton Falls school districts, Sangiuliano, at Disko’s direction, knowingly prepared fraudulent quotes bearing the names of other legitimate contractors, making the quotes higher than his own. He submitted the quotes to Disko, who recommended that the contracts be awarded to Sangiuliano’s company, Metropolitan. It is also alleged that, at the direction of Disko, Sangiuliano knowingly inflated Metropolitan’s quotes and the cost of repairs for the contracts. In exchange for the inflated contracts, Sangiuliano allegedly gave kickbacks to Disko in excess of $36,000 in 2009 and 2010. The investigation revealed that Disko also received over $44,000 in kickbacks from a prior owner of Metropolitan who is now deceased for contracts awarded from 2001 to 2004.

In bidding one contract in the Westfield schools, Disko told Sangiuliano he would include the replacement of seven windows in the scope of work for the bidding specifications, even though those seven windows had been recently replaced by Sangiuliano. This allegedly enabled Sangiuliano to bid lower than other contractors, knowing he would not have to replace the windows. Sangiuliano was awarded the job. He allegedly also kept an additional $18,000 in “bid allowances” for unforeseen work that was approved by Disko as the architect/engineer of record. Sangiuliano, in fact, did not perform any unforeseen or additional work on the project.

It is further alleged that between 2004 and 2008, Sangiuliano installed free window glass and doors, valued at over $13,000, in Berman’s home in exchange for Berman’s recommendation of Metropolitan as contractor of record for the Westfield School District. The contractor of record is contracted on an ongoing basis to handle school repairs and construction projects that arise.

The charge against Starr involves contracts worth approximately $39,530 that were awarded to Starr Contracting by the Westfield and Scotch Plains-Fanwood districts. In 2009 and 2010, Starr allegedly prepared fictitious quotes from legitimate contractors without their permission and submitted them to Disko in order to appear to be the lowest bidder for the contracts.

It is alleged that Gallagher helped Starr to obtain those contracts in the Westfield and Scotch Plains-Fanwood districts by preparing fraudulent and fictitious quotes and estimates for his own companies and submitting them to Disko as higher bids than those submitted by Starr. Also, in connection with other contracts that were awarded to Gallagher’s companies in the Westfield and Scotch Plains-Fanwood districts, Gallagher allegedly inflated quotes and the cost of work performed. In return for the inflated contracts, Gallagher allegedly gave cash kickbacks to Disko.

###

spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer
 
 
Contact OAG About OAG
OAG News OAG Frequently Asked Questions
OAG Library Employment
OAG Grants Proposed Rules
OAG History OAG Services A-Z
OAG Agencies / Programs / Units
Other News Pages Otras Noticias en Español Division of NJ State Police Division of Law News Governor's Office News Division of Highway Traffic Safety News Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Juvenile Justice Commission News Division on Civil Rights News Division of Consumer Affairs News Division of Criminal Justice News Election Law Enforcement Commission Division of Gaming Enforcement News
NJ State Police News Governor's Office News Division of Highway Traffic Safety News Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Juvenile Justice Commission News Division on Civil Rights News Division of Consumer Affairs News Division of Criminal Justice News Election Law Enforcement Commission Division of Elections News Division of Gaming Enforcement News Office of Government Integrity News

free PDF plugin

NJ State Police News Governor's Office News Division of Highway Traffic Safety News Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Juvenile Justice Commission News Division on Civil Rights News Division of Consumer Affairs News Division of Criminal Justice News Election Law Enforcement Commission Division of Elections News Division of Gaming Enforcement News Office of Government Integrity News
   
Contact Us | Privacy Notice | Legal Statement | Accessibility Statement
NJ Home Logo
Departmental: OAG Home | Contact OAG | About OAG | OAG News | OAG FAQs
Statewide: NJ Home | Services A to Z | Departments/Agencies | FAQs
Copyright © State of New Jersey
This page is maintained by OAG Communications. Comments/Questions: email or call 609-292-4925
OAG Home OAG Home NJ State Police News Governor's Office News Division of Highway Traffic Safety News Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Juvenile Justice Commission News Division on Civil Rights News Division of Consumer Affairs News Division of Criminal Justice News Election Law Enforcement Commission Division of Elections News Division of Gaming Enforcement News Office of Government Integrity News