A Fort Lee man who owned a construction business in Union City pleaded guilty to rigging the contractor selection process for $70,000 in contracts operated by the Union City Community Development Agency (CDA), U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Joseph Lado, 66, of Fort Lee, pleaded guilty yesterday in front of U.S. District Judge William H. Walls to a charge of conspiring with two agents of the Union City CDA and an unnamed Jersey City contractor to obtain federal money via fraudulent contracts, authorities said.
According to court documents, Lado owned Lado Construction, located at 100 32nd St. in Union City, between June 2007 and September 2010.
The Union City CDA receives federal funding, in the form of a block grant, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the two CDA inspectors helped Lado and the unnamed Jersey City contractor manipulate agreements for projects such as home improvements and sidewalk replacements, documents show.
The Jersey City contractor provided false bids from his company to help Lado Construction obtain work from the CDA, with the unnamed contractor furthering the process by giving Lado blank proposal forms he would fill out on his own with a value higher than the proposal being entered by Lado Construction, officials said.
Furthermore, the two Union City CDA inspectors asked Lado to submit the phony proposals directly to them, which helped allow Lado to continually obtain HUD – which provided at least $10,000 in annual grants – money from Union City CDA, according to court papers.
The conspiracy charge Lado pleaded guilty to comes with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Lado is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24, 2015.
Back when the FBI raided the Union City CDA in October 2012, I was the first to report that Lado Construction was also visited by the federal law enforcement agency (h/t Hudson County TV).
Union City Mayor Brian Stack could not immediately be reached by Hudson County View, but told NJ Advance Media that he is “frustrated and embarrassed” by the ordeal and that the two Union City inspectors should “do the right thing and resign.”