– Attorney General Paula T. Dow and
Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor
announced that a suspended business administrator
for the Westfield School District pleaded
guilty today to accepting $13,000 in windows
and doors from a contractor that he recommended
be hired by the school district.
to Director Taylor, Robert A. Berman, 55,
of South Plainfield, pleaded guilty before
Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue in
Union County to an accusation charging him
with third-degree conspiracy to make false
representations for a government contract.
Berman was suspended from his positions
as business administrator and board secretary
for the Westfield School District after
he was charged in this case in March. Under
the plea agreement, the state will recommend
that Berman be sentenced to a term of probation.
He must pay a $13,000 penalty – representing
the value of the materials and labor he
received from the contractor – into
the state’s Anti-Trust Revolving Fund
for anti-trust enforcement efforts.
must forfeit his positions with the school
district and will be permanently barred
from public employment in New Jersey. He
must cooperate fully in the state’s
ongoing investigation and prosecution.
pleading guilty, Berman admitted that he
accepted roughly $13,000 worth of window
glass and doors installed at his home by
Metropolitan Metal Window Company from 2004
to 2008. He further admitted that, as business
administrator, he issued written recommendations
that the Westfield Board of Education appoint
Metropolitan as the district’s “contractor
Attorney General Vincent J. Militello took
the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal
Justice. Judge Donohue scheduled sentencing
for Jan. 27, 2012.
was charged in March as a result of an investigation
by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption
Bureau, which also led to charges against
a school district engineer and three contractors.
The engineer, Kenneth Disko, 48, of Mountainside,
pleaded guilty on Oct. 12 to taking thousands
of dollars in kickbacks from 2001 to 2010
on contracts he recommended that involved
rigged bids and fraudulently inflated costs.
The state will recommend that Disko be sentenced
to three to five years in prison, pay a
penalty of at least $50,000, and be barred
from public contracts in New Jersey for
was the contracted engineer or engineer/architect
on record for the Westfield, Tinton Falls
and Scotch Plains-Fanwood school districts.
He admitted that he 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):
57, of Scotch Plains, co-owner of Metropolitan
Metal Window Company;
Martin W. Starr, 45,
of Cliffwood Beach, owner of Starr Contracting;
Stephen M. Gallagher,
50, of Cliffwood Beach, owner of East
Commercial Construction and Tara Construction.
charges against the three contractors 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.
details regarding the charges are contained
in an Oct. 12, 2011 press release regarding
Disko’s plea, which is posted on the
Attorney General’s website at www.njpublicsafety.com.
investigation was led by Deputy Attorney
General Militello, Sgt. Lisa Shea and Detective
Michael Behar of the Division of Criminal
Justice Corruption Bureau.