A former Guttenberg contractor was sentenced to three years probation, four months on house arrest and nearly $76,000 in penalties for causing at least $120,000 in losses for the Union City Community Development Agency, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Leovaldo Fundora, 55, of Guttenberg, received his sentence this morning, which includes a $73,752.68 restitution payment to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and a $2,000 fine, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Matt Reilly.
Newark federal court Judge William Walls gave the sentence, and according to The Record, blasted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for a “ridiculous” pattern of bringing corruption cases to the court and then asking for leniency.
Fundora pleaded guilty to creating phony proposals for sidewalk replacement and other home improvement projects to obtain federal grants from the Union City CDA back in January 2015 and faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office recommended probation in the matter, which Walls ultimately agreed with. In an email, Reilly added that anyone who cooperates with authorities should have that taken into consideration at sentencing.
“It is firmly rooted in our system of justice that a defendant who admits his own guilt and cooperates in the government’s investigation or prosecution of criminal conduct is entitled to some consideration at the time of sentencing,” he wrote.
“It is the prosecution’s responsibility to bring that information to the attention of the court, and the court has the discretion to determine how much weight to give it.”
Fundora, the husband of Guttenberg Councilwoman Monica Fundora, is the first of five men to be sentenced in the ongoing probe of the Union City CDA, which included an FBI raid of Union City City Hall in November 2012.
According to court documents, from 2007 through 2013, Union City CDA employee Washington Borgono conspired with Johnny Garces, a Union City CDA inspector, and contractors Joseph Lado, Fundora and others to use false and misleading bids to rig the selection process for HUD-funded projects.
Garces, also a former Union City Board of Education trustee, Lado and Jersey City contractor Stanley Parzych have all previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the scandal and are awaiting sentencing.
In addition to instructing Lado, Fundora and other contractors to submit phony higher bids from competitors or their own companies, Borgono and Garces used fabricated higher bids or threw out lower bids in order to secure certain Union City CDA projects for Lado, Fundora and others, officials said.
Fundora used to own the Guttenberg-based company Falcon Remodeling, Inc.
Back in June 2015, only Hudson County View reported that the Union City CDA was being “reorganized” in the midst of the ongoing investigation.