|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that Timothy J. Grossi, Deputy Director of Public Works for North Bergen Township, was indicted today by a state grand jury for allegedly ordering that subordinate employees work on political campaigns and perform personal chores at his home and the homes of others while being paid by the township.
Grossi, 72, of Jersey City, is the fourth man to be charged in an ongoing investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice into alleged abuses involving employees of the Department of Public Works (DPW) being paid by North Bergen Township for work unrelated to DPW functions. On Sept. 11, DPW Superintendent James Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit official misconduct, admitting he directed DPW employees to perform hundreds of hours of chores at his home and to work on campaigns while being paid by the township. On Sept. 21, DPW supervisors Troy Bunero and Francis Longo were indicted for allegedly directing employees to do personal chores for Wiley and work on campaigns.
Grossi was charged today in an eight-count state grand jury indictment with conspiracy (2nd degree), two counts of official misconduct (2nd degree), pattern of official misconduct (2nd degree), theft by unlawful taking (3rd degree), misapplication of entrusted property and property of government (3rd degree), tampering with public records or information (3rd degree), and falsifying or tampering with records (4th degree). The official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct charges carry a prison sentence of five to 10 years, including a mandatory minimum of five years without parole on the official misconduct charges and a consecutive mandatory minimum of five years without parole on the pattern charge.
“We allege that Grossi, who was one of the top officials in the Department of Public Works, ordered that employees be unlawfully used for personal and political purposes, all at the taxpayers’ expense,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “Local taxpayers should never be asked to foot the bill for this type of corruption, and we are working hard to eliminate it, in North Bergen and throughout New Jersey.”
“Four defendants have now been charged in our ongoing corruption investigation, reflecting our steady pursuit of evidence and justice in this troubling case,” said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge any residents or workers with additional information about abuses to contact us confidentially. We are diligently investigating all leads.”
As Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works, Grossi was Wiley’s boss. It is alleged that Grossi ordered Wiley to send DPW employees to engage in campaign work on behalf of candidates. Wiley sometimes assigned employees directly, but he also conveyed the orders to his immediate subordinates, Bunero and Longo, who allegedly assigned employees to work on campaigns.
Grossi is charged with one count of official misconduct for allegedly directing that subordinate employees work on campaigns on three occasions, while being paid by the township: (1) Nov. 4, 2008, in connection with a mayoral campaign in Bayonne; (2) May 12, 2009, in connection with a mayoral campaign in Jersey City; and (3) Nov. 2, 2010, in Jersey City, in connection with a campaign for sheriff. The workers engaged in activities such as canvassing neighborhoods, distributing campaign literature, and posting signs. Wiley, Bunero and Longo were also charged in connection with the campaign work on those dates.
The second count of official misconduct alleges that Grossi directly ordered or had another order that one or more DPW employees perform personal tasks for him or others while being paid by the township, including installing windows and window air conditioning units at his home, performing gardening work or other personal tasks at the homes of others, picking up or delivering political literature, and taking photographs of political signs.
According to the charges, the employees assigned to work election campaigns or perform personal tasks typically went to the sites using DPW vehicles, and they used tools and equipment belonging to the department. Grossi is charged with the counts of theft and misapplication of government property for his alleged role in the unlawful use of employee services, vehicles, tools and equipment for the election campaigns and personal tasks. In the two counts related to tampering with or falsifying records, Grossi is charged in connection with his alleged involvement in the submission of fraudulent timesheets related to his own hours and the hours of subordinate employees, which allegedly covered up the unlawful work done on campaigns and on personal tasks.
Grossi currently receives an annual salary of approximately $133,000 from North Bergen Township.
Deputy Attorneys General Cynthia M. Vazquez and Analisa Holmes presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The investigation, which is ongoing, is being conducted by Detective Garrett Brown, Investigator Joseph C. Salvatore, Lt. Robert Stemmer, and Deputy Attorneys General Vazquez and Holmes.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000. The official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without parole. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned it to Bergen County, where Grossi will be ordered to appear for arraignment at a later date. The indictment is posted with this release at www.njpublicsafety.com. More details on Wiley’s plea and the indictment charging Bunero and Longo are contained in releases posted on the website on Sept. 11 and Sept. 21.
Under Wiley’s plea agreement, the state will recommend that he be sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison, the standard range for second-degree crimes. He forfeited his job and will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey. He must pay restitution to the township in an amount to be determined for any wages paid to municipal employees for time spent working at his home.
Attorney General Chiesa and Director Taylor noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free Corruption Tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities confidentially. The public can also log on to the Division webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.