Feds: Ex-Bayonne official gets 21 months in prison for taking $65k in bribes

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The former senior accountant for the Bayonne Department of Community Development was sentenced to 21 months in prison for taking $65,000 in bribes, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced. Federal Court

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Anselmo Crisonino, 56, of Bayonne, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to accepting $65,000 in bribes from Joseph Arrigo, the owner of a contracting company in Bayonne, officials said.

Crisonino also pleaded guilty to one count of theft and conversion of federal funds totaling $422,360, one count of conducting an illegal gambling business, and one count of submitting a false tax return for tax year 2011.

The BDCD was an agency that received funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under a federal program that provided grants up to $20,000 to low income families to rehabilitate their homes and to repair conditions affecting health and safety, accessibility, energy efficiency or code compliance.

The BDCD also provided these HUD funds under the same federal program to nonprofit organizations. Crisonino was responsible for reviewing applications and awarding such funds to qualified applicants.

In September 2010, Crisonino solicited cash bribe payments from Arrigo in exchange for Crisonino’s assistance in awarding HUD grant funds from the BDCD to Arrigo as the owner of Shadow Contracting LLC, authorities said.

From September 2010 to February 2013, Crisonino admitted receiving cash payments from Arrigo totaling approximately $65,000 in exchange for Crisonino’s assistance in awarding HUD grant funds from the BDCD to Arrigo that totaled approximately $426,000.

Furthermore, between September 2010 and February 2013, Crisonino awarded HUD grant funds to several contractors and plumbers in Bayonne through the BDCD, despite the fact that Crisonino knew that the submitted bids for the projects were fraudulent and were the result of collusion by the contractors and plumbers, officials said.

Crisonino also approved change orders on projects where little to no legitimate work had been done by the contractors and plumbers at the job sites.

The approved change orders allowed the BDCD to disperse additional HUD grant funds to the projects that had already reached the maximum $20,000 grant allotment, authorities said.

Crisonino also pleaded guilty to conducting an illegal gambling business in northern New Jersey. The illegal gambling business was administered and managed through a website that Crisonino and others accessed through usernames and passwords.

He admitted making and subscribing a U.S. Individual Tax Return, Form 1040, for tax year 2011 filed with the IRS, which he did not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter, including approximately $65,000 in unreported income through the bribe payments.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Sheridan sentenced Crisonino to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $439,000.