Acting New Jersey Attorney General John Jay Hoffman says “we will not tolerate public officials who abuse their authority and the public resources entrusted to them” after a jury found North Bergen DPW Supervisors Troy Bunero and Francis Longo guilty on a multitude of charges – including official misconduct.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
According to the state Attorney General’s Office, Bunero and Longo are required by law to forfeit their jobs and will be permanently barred from public employment.
“North Bergen residents don’t pay property taxes so that supervisors like Bunero and Longo can treat municipal employees like their personal handymen or like campaign workers to help them curry political favor,” Hoffman said in a statement.
“By sending these men to prison, along with their boss, James Wiley, we send a powerful message that we will not tolerate public officials who abuse their authority and the public resources entrusted to them.”
“The defense portrayed Bunero and Longo as little guys who just passed on orders from their boss, but that didn’t square with the fact that the orders included renovating Bunero’s home and painting Longo’s truck,” added Elie Honig, the director of the Division of Criminal Justice, in separate statement.
“Our trial team skillfully laid out the facts of this case so that the jurors, to their credit, could discern the truth: that these two men eagerly exploited their supervisory positions and the workers under them for their personal gain.”
Bunero was responsible for timekeeping and supervising street sweepers and trash pickup, while Longo was responsible for supervising crews that did road repair and construction work and the criminal conduct occurred between January 2006 and February 2012.
The government also broke down the charges one by one.
Bunero and Longo were convicted of one count of official misconduct related to political campaign work. The state presented testimony and evidence that they worked on election campaigns personally while being paid by the township and also helped assign subordinate employees to work on campaigns.
They were convicted in connection with three days when DPW employees engaged in campaign work:
1. Nov. 4, 2008, in connection with a mayoral campaign in Bayonne
2. May 12, 2009, in connection with a mayoral campaign in Jersey City
3. Nov. 2, 2010, in Jersey City, in connection with a campaign for sheriff
When pleading guilty to official misconduct, former NB DPW Superintendent James Wiley admitted signing and submitting fraudulent paperwork to have DPW workers paid for overtime labor that they provided on those days.
The workers engaged in activities such as canvassing neighborhoods, distributing campaign literature and posting signs.
Bunero and Longo were convicted of a second count of official misconduct for assigning DPW workers to go to Wiley’s home in North Bergen to do household chores or projects while the workers were on duty or being paid overtime by the township.
Each man also made use of on-the-clock DPW workers for their own personal projects, including renovations at Bunero’s home and the repainting of Longo’s pickup truck, which was done in the DPW garage.
The two men performed work themselves on these projects while being paid by the township. In addition, Longo was convicted of a third count of official misconduct for assigning workers to repair the parking lot of a commercial property – which was owned by a relative of NB DPW Commissioner Frank Gargiulo.
Additionally, the township employees assigned to work election campaigns or at personal residences typically went to the sites using DPW vehicles, and they used tools and equipment belonging to the department.
Bunero and Longo were convicted of theft and misapplication of government property for their role in the unlawful use of tools, equipment, vehicles and employee services for the election campaigns and for personal work for Wiley and themselves.
In the counts related to tampering with and falsifying records, Bunero was charged with submitting fraudulent timesheets related to his own hours and the hours of subordinate employees to cover up the unlawful work done on campaigns and on personal projects.
Bunero has worked for North Bergen since 1998 and earned an annual salary of approximately $69,000. Longo has worked for North Bergen since 1993 and earned an annual salary of approximately $79,000.
Both men were suspended without pay after they were indicted in September 2012 and will now be forced to forfeit their jobs and will be permanently banned from public employment.
Their criminal defense lawyers, Brian Neary and Troy Bunero, have already stated they plan on filing an appeal in the matter.