Hudson County political fixer Tom Bertoli, a former top alley of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, pleaded guilty to one tax charge on a Zoom hearing this morning over two years after being indicted on eight different tax-related charges.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Bertoli, 65, of Matawan, pleaded guilty to one count of corrupt interference with administration of the Internal Revenue laws, a felony charge, in front of U.S. District Court Judge Brian Martinotti this morning during a virtual hearing that lasted about 45 minutes.
The plea agreement says that Bertoli could face anywhere between zero to 18 months in prison along with $1,171,494 restitution to the IRS and other penalties, as well as the possibility of supervised release.
Bertoli admitted that on June 5th, 2014, he was interviewed by an IRS collections officer and at that time had not filed tax returns between 2009 and 2013, despite earning income and owing a total of approximately $195,889 in taxes.
He also falsely claimed he was a construction worker at a construction company in order to hide the existence of one of his political consulting companies, Urban Logistics, LLC.
Additionally, he earned about $917,000 through Urban Logistics in 2015 and owed about $370,025 in taxes – which he did not pay in time. His sentencing is scheduled for February 7th, 2023.
He was charged by criminal complaint on June 3rd, 2020 with two counts of tax evasion, one count of corrupt interference with the administration of the Internal Revenue laws, and one count of failure to file a tax return.
Bertoli was indicted just under three weeks later on the same charges.
Federal prosecutors alleged that individually and through his companies, Bertoli obtained payments from clients for services provided, including payments from developers and construction firms for expediting services on real estate development and construction projects, primarily in Jersey City.
He operated The Doormen Inc., City Street Associates LLC, and Urban Logistics.
Bertoli’s attorneys in the matter, Jack Arsenault and Greg Jones, said shortly after he was charged by complaint that he strenuously “denies that any of his actions were done with the intent to evade the assessment of any tax or to interfere with the administration of IRS laws.”
Nicknamed the janitor for his ability to clean up political messes, Bertoli was heavily credited for Fulop unseating then-Mayor Jerramiah Healy in 2013 and has performed political work for the likes of U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Hoboken Council President Mike Russo.
Bloomberg reported in 2019 that Bertoli would likely face federal tax charges and was being pressured to give up information on Fulop and other public officials, but it appears that effort was unsuccessful based on today’s outcome.
The New Jersey Globe reported on Monday that the plea did not include a cooperation agreement on any other matters, though that did not come up one way or another during today’s hearing.
Fulop spokesman Phil Swibinski indicated that today’s guilty plea is a clear indicator that this case was never about government and politics.
“After a six year ordeal that included countless false accusations and unfair assumptions about Tom, today proved that this matter had absolutely nothing to do with politics or government all along,” he said in a statement.
“It’s unfortunate that Tom’s family had to endure this but now they will be able to officially close this chapter. Tom has taken accountability for his actions and regrets what he did, and the positive here is that he can now start to move forward with a clean slate.”
Another Jersey City politician who was close with Bertoli, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), also spoke out in his favor after his guilty plea on Thursday.
“Tommy is a brilliant political tactician, an incredible father and husband, and a great friend. I know how remorseful he is for an avoidable situation in his dealing with the IRS, but I’m proud of him for accepting responsibility and allowing his family to move on from this years-long ordeal and focus on planning his second daughter’s wedding.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated with comments from Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop spokesman Phil Swibinski and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji.