Joseph Lorenzo, the brother-in-law of North Bergen DPW Commissioner Gargiulo, pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking on Monday according to the State Attorney General’s Office.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Lorenzo, 78, of West New York, pleaded guilty on Monday to third-degree theft by unlawful taking, according to State AG’s Office spokesman Peter Aseltine.
“Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend a sentence of probation for a term to be determined by the Court and $15,000 in restitution ($1,600) and criminal penalties ($13,400). Superior Court Judge Andrew Young in Hudson County took the plea and scheduled sentencing for May 20,” he said in an email this morning.
Back in October, Lorenzo was indicted by a state grand jury on charges of second-degree conspiracy, second-degree official misconduct and third-degree theft by unlawful taking.
He was accused of conspiring with unnamed individuals to have employees of the North Bergen DPW perform construction work at his deli, Yella’s, which was located at John F. Kennedy Boulevard and 59th Street.
Hudson County View exclusively reported in June, during the trial of ex-NB DPW Supervisors Troy Bunero and Francis Longo, that a DPW worker testified to filling potholes for a business owned by a relative of Gargiulo while on township time.
Additionally, Michael Bunero, Troy Bunero’s brother, stated in sworn court testimony that he repaired a car belonging to Gargiulo’s brother-in-law – who was not employed by the NB DPW – at the department’s garage located at 6100 Tonnelle Ave.
A Hudson County Superior Court jury found Bunero and Longo guilty on all charges related to performing personal chores and working on political campaigns while on township time and were subsequently sentenced to five years in state prison in November.
The AG’s Office stated in their closing arguments that no one is getting “a free pass” in the ongoing probe of the North Bergen DPW.
A North Bergen spokesman said after the verdict that the department has been “completely overhauled” since 2012, when the scandal broke, noting that a new management team is currently in place.
Additionally, North Bergen Department of Public Works Deputy Director Timothy Grossi, who was indicted on charges nearly identical to Bunero and Longo over three years ago, is set to go to trial in Bergen County on April 19 – though his case has already been postponed on several occasions.
The State AG’s Office is also currently investigating the North Bergen Parks and Recreation Department, which was raided a year ago and led to two employees being indicted in August for allegedly falsifying timesheets.