Feds: Ex-WNY Commissioner Vargas pleads guilty to equity skimming


Former West New York Commissioner Ruben Vargas pleaded guilty to performing equity skimming with a $417,000 loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in U.S. District Court in Trenton this morning, the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed. Ruben Vargas

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Vargas, 65, pleaded guilty to purchasing a rental property with a $417,000 loan insured by HUD and purposely stopped making payments on it, but yet continued collecting rental income related to the property, according to the criminal complaint.

On or about September 21, 2007, Vargas obtained a $417,000 loan to purchase a multi-family property at 5512 Grant Pl. and collected rent payments from tenants between approximately 2007 and 2013, the complaint says.

Furthermore, the complaint also states that Vargas was in default of the loan and failed “to remit any of the monies collected to pay down the outstanding mortgage loan.”

The maximum sentence for equity skimming, which is where a person gains a title to another individual’s home, refinances it and takes out all the equity on the property, is five years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Back in January 2012, I reported for The Jersey Journal that the state Department of Community Affairs was investigating five properties with outstanding building violations owned by Mayor Felix Roque, then-Deputy Mayor Silvio Acosta (who is currently a trustee on the board of education) and Vargas.

One of the properties in question was a Grant Place property owned by Vargas.

Building Code Official Tom O’Malley sued the town for wrongful termination in June of the same year, claiming he was retaliated against for reporting the aforementioned properties to the DCA, (h/t The Jersey Journal).

O’Malley and his wife Kim, who was included in the suit, settled the mater with the town in June 2014, each receiving about $200,000 in damages. They then returned to their respective Town Hall jobs in August of the same year.

As Hudson County View first reported, Vargas resigned as commissioner “due to personal circumstances” in January 2015, paving the way for Cosmo Cirillo to join the board of commissioners.

Vargas was hired as the head of security for the West New York Housing Authority in February 2015 at a salary of about $35,000 a year, which we also first reported.

WNYHA Executive Director Bob DiVincent said he was unaware of the particulars of the situation and would have to gather all the facts before presenting it the board – who would ultimately decide whether or not to terminate Vargas.

“I would never expect it, I’m shocked,” he said over the phone.

In July of the same year, Vargas was hired as an outside operations manager at the West New York Parking Authority at a salary of $40,000, according to then-agency head Jamie Cryan.

WNYPA Acting Executive Director Amiris Perez did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Additionally, Vargas is being represented by attorney Chris Adams, of Holmdel, who is also representing Roque in a state Attorney General’s case alleging that the mayor engaged in a $250,000 bribery and kickback scheme.

Roque pleaded not guilty back in July.

“He’s accepted his responsibility. He admits he failed to repay the loan but had to make very serious decisions on how to spend the money from the rent on his family and, unfortunately, the loan was not the priority,” Adams said.

He also said there was no correlation in the two separate criminal cases involving Vargas and Roque, respectively.

Vargas’ sentencing is scheduled for August 18 at 10 a.m.

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  1. The whole county is corrupt from top to bottom. Love WNYHA Executive Director Bob DiVincent Quote.

    “I would never expect it, I’m shocked,” he said over the phone. Bob do you live under a rock? You got corruption all around you. Open you eyes.

  2. How many votes did he beat Vega by? Another disgrace from the Roque albatross. More and more people realizing the grass wasn’t greener on the other side after all.

  3. Do these charges also include insurance fraud and arson at his 67th St. property? Or are those going to be separate charges?

    DiVincent’s comment is both classic and typical. Remember. He is the one who protects Ruben and Silvio. DiVincent’s just as bad if not worse. He’s surprised!!! That cracks me up.

    And Roques attorney is representing Vargas. How convenient. Is the retainer fee going to be considered hush money?

    WNY is laughable.

  4. I always wondered why that peice of garbage was given three paying jobs. He must have something on Roque. Big Time , ( he knows where the bones are buried) He ‘s on the parking authority full time during the day , he works full time at night for the housing authority and he’s a paid commissioner for the Sewer authority and was appointed by a Mayor who is under indictment for the second time. The former deputy Mayor is still on the payroll with no duties and sill on the board of education and owes the town over a half a million in fines for building codes violations that accurred while he was an inspector for the building department. The Roque administration is the most corrupt administration in WNY.

  5. The Vargus indictment reads he pleaded guilty, he should be taken off all public payrolls and boards immediately. There is no way he should be permitted to collect another penny from the taxpayers or to stay on any board to represent the public on any board. He’s a thief ,

  6. So he was so broke that he had to decide to use the money for other things instead of paying the loan? Was he also so broke that he set his other property on fire? Was he so broke that he collected the insurance money yet never fixed the property?

    I mean, he fraudulently completed the application. It was his intent from the beginning. Yet DiVincent is surprised! Surprised or scared Bob?

    Yet he’s not to broke to afford Roque’s attorney? Don’t be naive people …. Felix may be caught up in more than his current troubles and he hopes Ruben doesn’t reveal the whole scheme. One can only hope.

    Please please please tell me this isn’t over. Please tell me that Silvio is next and the rest of the gang, Garcia, Demarco, Blanch, other the others who names escape me because there’s been so many.

    Ruben, if u want to avoid jail time …. Sing. Sing away.

  7. What a disgrace. What a bunch of lowlifes.
    Isn’t Vargas the same guy who was given a job in the school system at about 70K a year, and when investigators questioned him about it he was unable to give a job description? Typical Roque garbage. That POS and all his crooked cronies have destroyed this town.

    When are they going to get Acosta? He belongs in the cell next to Felix the cat and the two of them should rot.

  8. This man had disrespected my mother who came to collect rent one month he had owed us 3 months rent ! His Wife And Him Would Set Up A extention cord to my garage out lit an steal power from my home which I paid for. This guy is nothing but trouble . I’m glad he got a taste of his owen medicine . I got the 411 on this guy. Lmk

  9. So wait…. How does someone who’s so broke manage to get on Roque’s ticket? Did he not do his homework? Did he not know anything at all about his running mate? And Cary Roriguez….. Where is she is in all of this? Didn’t she want to know who her running mates were? A woman of her stature (hahaha) connected to this…. Unbelievable. (Not really!)

    Come on guys. There’s something rotten here…. Well there’s a lot that’s rotten here but this story doesn’t jive….. From Bob’s surprise reaction to the fact that Ruben was back at work this afternoon…. That alone has to have some scared….. Some, but not Felix…. Because he paid for Rubens silence. All the others…. Parking authority employees, housing authority employees, all the attendees at the famous baby shower…. CAN YOU SAY “WIRE”?????

    Can’t wait for this story to really unfold. I think they should all be worried… Acosta, his side kick Alvarez, their bought and paid for inspector Fernandez, Garcia, Demarco….. And all the other scum that turned their backs on morals and integrity and joined up with these criminals. I hope Ruben takes out all of the trash at town hall, the old and the new!

    • >>> So wait…. How does someone who’s so broke manage to get on Roque’s ticket? Did he not do his homework? Did he not know anything at all about his running mate? >>>

      Of course Roque knew. The only people he could get to run with him were lowlifes just like he is. The scum of the earth.
      They say the new commissioners are better but why did they elect him mayor again? What is he still doing in Town Hall?
      What is it going to take for law enforcement to get this SOB for his political corruption, not just what he did as Dr. Feelgood? He and Acosta are still raping this town. Pigs!

  10. Housing Ex. Director DiVincent and the Parking Authority Director Perez and Wolf the Director of the Sewer Athority have prove to the public that they are run independently and are not run by political hacks and get Vargus off their payrolls.

    • You are correct. Let’s see how stand-up and ethically correct these directors are. If Rubens not terminated by noon today, we will have our answer.

      I ask you Mr John Heinis to please stay on top of these individuals and update this story with their courses of action. Either way.

  11. What does Roque’s wife WORK ????? I guess she has a NO SHOW JOB with a VENDOR in the school district and the city. Why did Roque threaten school board members to vote for the budget so all his contributors can get PAID. Now David MORELL will be the next PUPPET on the school board to take OREDERS LIKE JONATHAN AND ADAM AND DAMARYS. ROQUE CALLED SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS AND TOLD THEM HOW TO VOTE ON THE BUDGET OR ELSE. WHERE IS THE F B. I. ???? Go see COSMO.

    • If the school board members were threatened please tell them to ask Vilma for the phone number of the agents she has been working with. I am sure they will be glad to help those threatened.

  12. Roque must go. Silvio must go. All the deadbeats they continue to hire MUST GO old and new. ESPECIALLY Gina. They bring trouble. They bring lawsuits. And we pay. The town is still paying off the lawsuits from the first four years. How many more do we have to endure.

    Talks on this site and FB clearly show that we know the game. We know Parking Authority and BOE are run from town hall so the work begins there. Oust the elected officials and fire the inept. It’s not difficult they just choose not to do it. There is plenty of young blood and older blood in West New York willing to work or sit on boards but never given the chance. If you want to take our town back, it starts there …. At town hall. That’s where the focus should be. Not on several different fronts showing no real front.

    There’s factions from north bergen involved in decisions that affect WNY. Turner himself on the payroll. Scarincis firm is making millions. The woman who handles personnel, Kelly is from the firm of S&H but now WNY pays her salary and you know what she does? She starts more lawsuits by not knowing her job or doing it IMPROPERLY. She’s Sue’s henchman. Then there’s the female attorney Monica whose job mainly is to get everyone’s problems down on paper and then never do anything about them. Creating more lawsuits. Manny Diaz must have a boat load of crap on Felix for the shots he gets to call and the Silvio story…… Please. Even I’m tired of hearing about that. collectively just the above named individuals are making millions. And some people in town hall making minimum wage are denied raises after being there for years. There are part timers who won’t be made full time because there’s no money, yet gina gets to hand pick a health officer at god knows how much because that’s one license she DOESNT have but we pay her how much? There’s no inspectors left to deal with our apartment issues, you know why? Because they want us all to get fed up and move so these properties get sold off to their favored developers and they can build pricey high rent apartments. Sue spends the towns money as if it were her own right under our noses and we allow it. PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE. ITS HAPPENING.

    Roque is having yet another kid. He is setting up a home in Bergen county FAR away from the WNYers. Some would like to think it’s so when he goes to jail his wife is all cushy. Personally I don’t care how he goes as long as he goes. But please Felix….. Take all your criminal friends with you. All of the ones mentioned above and all the others. I think they know who they are.

    Let’s get it together people. Or they continue to win.

  13. This is the third time I’m making a comment because I still can’t believe this story and have a few more things to say . WNY is known as the most corrupt town in the county that’s why when I travel I say I’m from North Bergen , I sick of being laughed at when I said I was from WNY. How can a guy be hired to be in charge of security plead guilty to being a thief.and sill be on the job and when Bob DiVincent is asked for a comment he says I’m shocked , I have to check the facts . Vargus already pleaded guilty ( those are the facts ) John it’s time for comments from the Mayor who is also under indictment and has the same attorney as Vargus. How about a comment from the town Administrator Jamie Cryan who Hired Vargus at the Parking Authority , who recommended Vargus to be hired ? He was hired to watch the money and sill works there after pleading guilty to being a thief . I think its time for the town to pass a resolution to do background checks on all employees including elected officials and department heads . Maybe the residents will get lucky and east coast investigations will get the bid

  14. Read the plea agreement.

    He sang and cut himself a deal.

    Only person he didn’t give up is Felix but that’s because that’s what Felix paid for.

    Everybody who has had a conversation with this lowlife since January of 2015 involving anything remotely shady should be afraid.

    Think about how long this investigation has been going on ….. It’s only a matter of time before you receive that knock on your door.

    Wait for it.

  15. Lots of comments but no one steps up. Lets pack the next commissioner meeting on Thursday,May 16th and let these cowards know what you feel. Bet no one will ask a single question.

  16. Wait until you find out where Roqus wife has NO SHOW JOB for many years and how many hundreds of thousands of dollars she collected since he got elected. Roqus has already threatened all board members that they better vote for David Morell or else. All the authorities have do is visit the school board members . They should visit Parkison and Castacndes and ask who gives them there orders. Everyone should go to the next school board and see how Adam and Clara take orders from Diaz .

  17. A lot of people say a lot of things about corruption and people involved. I don’t know what’s true and what’s not true, but if anyone truly knows the things they talk about on this board, they should go to the FBI and give them facts, names, dates, etc. Let the Feds investigate.

    I’m sure there is plenty of dirt on this filthy group of pigs to get a big indictment and put them away for years.

    • Interesting. Maybe that’s why the plea agreement alludes to him being deported? Think of the implications of that; if he wasn’t even a citizen yet he was a commissioner. The man is an admitted liar and thief. Anything is possible. But if he’s not a citizen; I think Felix and the gang have REAL problems on their hands. Maybe Donald shouldnt pass the baton to Sean just yet. Think of the repercussions. Are you thinking of them? I am and this opens a whole new door.

      And by the way, no reason to wait on a resolution to terminate him. He pleaded guilty to a criminal matter. He should have been terminated immediately. But I guess DiVincent and whatever the women’s name is from the parking authority don’t know what to do now since its been revealed his positions were no show in the first place.

      By the way. Nice touch by Ruben showing up to work today. Sure, let the admitted thief who is in dire straits for cash collect the quarters. That makes perfect sense.

      Did anyone else catch a glimpse of Frias in town hall today. Interesting that TODAY of all days she shows up. CLASSIC

      Next week should be interesting. Clear your scheduled people. It’s one action packed meeting after the next. Housing Parking BOE and Town.

      So stop BSing on social media and let’s charge the meetings.

      • Friars, another peice of work . Lazy freeloading POS , worked in the board of Ed and wanted a high paying no show job and wasn’t happy when she couldn’t get it . Went to the parking Authority and wanted to be the director and couldn’t get it and never did anything. Went to work in the county and got mad when they told her she to be on time and work. A poor excuse for a human being.

  18. Poor west new York governed by a bunch of crooks and controlled by the organization where is the holy cardiad.Rodriguez collecting her checks and the great Albio who gave us Sal roque.and Clara herrara. Albio should be ashamed of himself he ruined west new York

  19. 34 comments posted, and not one is in defense of Vargas or Roque and his administration (current and prior). I wish there was this much unity last May 11, 2015, so that we would not have Roque now as Mayor. Roque’s tenure as Mayor of WNY is reminiscent of when Scar took over as King of the Jungle in Lion King-there was evil and constant darkness in the jungle throughout Scar’s reign. I hope some day Scar goes away for good, so that the light can shine once again on our beautiful town on the shores of the Hudson River, east of NJ and West of NY.
    And we though Sal Vega was bad…

  20. Dig Deeper.. WNY Parking Authority Board Member has been shelling and buying Acosta’s and Vargas’s properties last few months. After Vargas got in at the Parking Authority, Vargas gets his Great Friend Mrs Perez appointed new Parking Authority Executive. Jim Cryan wanted no more of it and was put in Town Hall. People Why is the Parking Authority paying over $100,000+ a month on non-sense bills?
    Look at the Parking Authority Minutes last few months. The Parking Authority is kick back heaven. Now Vargas is collecting the Meter Money with an ex employee of the now disbanned Union City Parking Authority. It seems Corruption is more than we know at the WNY Parking Authority.. So much more.. Dig Deeper..Less not forget the Rivera-Frias cover ups hidden from the Public. Richie Rivera settlement was sealed from the Public for a few yeas per the Parking Authority. Why is River still getting paid years after he was let go? Why the secrets? Jim Cryan knows and should be questioned. Also lets have an independent Audit of the Parking Authority for the last 10 Years!

    Where is the FBI should be asked also in WNY.

  21. Roque’s great lawyers are in control of the parking authority. Reuben Vargas and his friends are running it now. West NY is being ripped off. Nothing will be done the feds do not care about West NY.

  22. Everyone is asking where is the FBI with all this corruption going on in WNY ?… I will they you where they are. They are busy going after little kids who want to join ISIS !… Poor kid gets 15 years in jail in WNY cause he wants to join poor ISIS !… Ruben Vargas made well over a Million Dollars and will likely get PROBATION !!!

    Well I’m coming out of the closet on the HUDSON COUNTY VIEW by saying I want to join ISIS too !… I could use the free meals and the free haircuts and all the other goodies in prison.

    I though John H. would turn out to be a tough reporter but I was wrong. When he goes to City Hall for interviews he does NOT lay the hammer down. It is like he just came from playing golf with Donald Trump !

    • John , there’s an old saying ( if you try and please everybody you’re going to piss somebody off ) you just keep on doing what you’re going , a good job ! Bring it to to the people and the voters have to bring the hammer down .

    • Funny how you put this on the reporter instead of yourself, taxpayers and residents of WNY. I highly doubt Mr. Heinis stepped into a voting booth in WNY and voted for these clowns. Instead all you fools with fake names talk a good game but are usually too “busy” to make it to the meetings.

      By all means, feel free to step up to mic and ask all the tough questions you want. I’m sure HCV will record the whole thing. But you won’t. Probably too busy at home adjusting your Kotex.

  23. Jesus Vega you are spot on with the Parking Authority An engineering company has billed over a million dollars because it’s contact in North Bergen. All bogus work that was created just so they can bill the same is going on at the BOE. All Hinnis has to do is look at Roque’s elect reports and match everyone that is robbing the town. They should look at the insurance contract where Roque’s wife has a no show job and has collected 100s of thousands of dollars since he was elected. Cosmo can put it all together. They should also look at the falsified lunch program applications that commissioners filled out for there kids to rob the district of money just like in Elizabeth and Bayonne .more commisiom s will be going down soon. Where is Jose Munoz when he can really make a difference. He was RIGHT ALL ALONG a about the CORRUPTION IN WNY. David Morell will be appointed at the next school board member the Feds should come to the meeting and see how school board members are threatened with there jobs if they don’t VOTE for MORELL. Isis has nothing on the WNY elected officials. They are doing more DAMAGE to lives than Isis can ever DO

  24. This whole place is a laughing stock. Roque has ruined the town, the BOE and every other thing West New York had going for it. He thinks he’s a Dictator, but is really a puppet. All this does is prove that he has filled the town with degenerate lowlifes like Vargas. He is a disgrace who has no respect for anyone, especially women. The entire town hall is filled with these bottom feeders, and now so is the BOE. Everyone thinking that they are owed something and not willing to work for it. Teachers who because of who they make it known that they know getting away with things that would get them fired anywhere else. Administrators that do nothing for the students and continue to protect and cover up the activities of these people. All being directed by the most unqualified inept superintendent this town has ever seen. Teachers have no contract while the superintendent spends all of the districts money on her friends with new titles and raises and trips to AC. The Parking Authority is a cesspool of corruption and thieves as is the housing authority. Everyone should storm these meetings and demand the resignations of the people in charge. Hopefully the state will take over the town soon and those sucking the blood out of it will finally be gone. Until them god help us. Go to the Parking Authority, BOE, and Housing meetings and make your voice heard. Get rid of these low lives once and for all.