A former Union City Board of Education trustee and inspector for the city’s Community Development Agency was sentenced to 20 months in prison for causing at least $307,000 in losses by rigging the contract selection process, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Johnny Garces, 53, of Union City, pleaded guilty in March 2015 before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls in to one count of conspiring with others to obtain by fraud funds provided by Union City.
Walls sentenced Garces to 20 months in prison yesterday.
Between April 2007 and July 2011, Garces was an inspector at the Union City CDA, a government agency that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under a federal block grant that provides money for home improvement projects, sidewalk replacement and other projects.
During this time, Garces conspired with contractors Joseph Lado, 68, of Fort Lee and Leovaldo Fundora, 55, of Guttenberg and others to rig the selection process for HUD-funded projects through false and misleading bids, authorities said.
In addition to instructing Lado and Fundora to submit phony, higher bids from competitors, Garces also fabricated higher bids from numerous fictitious companies so that Lado, Fundora and others would secure the projects, officials said.
In addition to the prison term, Walls sentenced Garces to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $307,497.
On August 10, Lado was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $82,886 in restitution.
One week later on August 17, Fundora was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $73,754 in restitution.
In total, five men pleaded guilty for their roles in rigging contractor bids at the Union City CDA. The probe into the agency began when the FBI raided their office in November 2012 and we exclusively reported last June that the city decided to “reorganize” the CDA in the midst of the federal investigation.