Longtime Hudson County political operative and fixer Tom Bertoli, credited with playing a key role in having Steven Fulop elected to the Jersey City mayor’s seat in 2013, has been hit with tax evasion and related charges today.
Thomas Bertoli, 62, a North Bergen native currently residing in Matawan, has been charged by complaint 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, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Bertoli operated The Doormen Inc., City Street Associates LLC, and Urban Logistics LLC.
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, according to the criminal complaint.
He also received payments from political campaigns for consulting services in New Jersey, though federal authorities did not disclose any one campaign in particular.
Expediting in the construction industry typically refers to “facilitating the acquisition of building permits and other government agency approvals required for the completion of real estate projects,” officials said.
Bertoli obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in gross receipts for calendar years 2009 to 2016. Bertoli had not, as of April 18th, 2017, filed federal tax returns or paid any of the taxes due, other than a $5,000 nominal payment in September 2014, for those years.
He concealed and attempted to conceal from the IRS his income and assets through various means: Bertoli cashed at check cashers payments from his clients, made false and fraudulent statements to the IRS, and used the Urban Logistics bank account for personal expenditures.
“[Bertoli’s] bank records which I have reviewed, show that at least in or about April 2014 to in or about December 2016, [Bertoli] also used the Urban Logistics bank account to pay various personal expenses,” according to Kenneth K. Long, a special agent for criminal investigation for the IRS – who signed the criminal complaint.
” … I have learned that [Bertoli] deposited payments for his expediting services to his Urban Logistics bank account and paid for personal expenditures directly from that account, including, among others, payments to his spouse and payments for real estate, home improvements, travel expenses, a family memberâ€™s hair salon business, and political donations.”
During this time frame, Bertoli is also accused of transferring over a million dollars from Urban Logistics to his personal bank account.
According to filings with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Urban Logistics made $7,500 in political contributions between May 2014 and February 2014.
A former political advisor to ex-West New York Mayor Sal Vega, Bertoli’s company made a $1,000 donation to then-Mayor Felix Roque’s slate on May 13th, 2014.
During that aforementioned time frame, he also contributed $3,000 to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka’s team.
The only other contribution from Urban Logistics identified by NJ ELEC is an $11,400 check to Fulop’s council slate on March 31st, 2013.
Fulop, the Ward E councilman at the time, bested Mayor Jerramiah Healy in the May 14th, 2013 election, with Bertoli regarded as the top consultant on Fulop’s campaign – which was expected since he helped him get elected to the city council in 2005.
While he was never employed by City Hall, allegations that he had significant sway regarding development lingered until about late 2016, around the time that Fulop announced he wouldn’t be running for governor and endorsed eventual winner Phil Murphy.
Bloomberg was the first to report last year that Bertoli was under federal investigation, prompting Ward E Councilman James Solomon to call for adjustments to local ethics rules and Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro asking Carpenito to look into the situation (though he didn’t specifically mention Bertoli).
Bertoli is charged with tax evasion for calendar years 2009 to 2013 and evasion of assessment of taxes for calendar year 2014, as well as with corrupt interference with the administration of the Internal Revenue laws and failing to file a tax return for calendar year 2013.
Each charge of tax evasion carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charge of corrupt interference with the administration of the Internal Revenue laws carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Additionally, the charge of failing to file a tax return carries a maximum potential penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.