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Birdsall's Former CEO, 6 Others Indicted in 'Pay-to-Play' Scandal

Illegal corporate political contributions were disguised as personal contributions of employees of the Eatontown-based firm, the indictment charges.

The former CEO of Birdsall Services Group and six other executives and shareholders were indicted Tuesday on charges they allegedly violated state pay-to-pay laws.

The Eatontown-based firm has engineering contracts with various municipalities Monmouth and Ocean counties.

In the scheme, instead of the company making corporate political contributions to campaigns and political organizations that would disqualify it from public contracts awarded by certain government agencies, shareholders and employees of the firm allegedly made personal political contributions of $300 or less, which are deemed unreportable, according to the attorney general's office.

Under state law, personal political contributions under $300 do not have to be reported to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.

The state's Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau on Tuesday obtained a nine-count state grand jury indictment charging Birdsall Services Group, which is headquartered in Eatontown, and several employees and shareholders, including:

  • Howard C. Birdsall, 69, of Brielle, the largest shareholder of Birdsall, who retired late last year as CEO. He allegedly made at least $49,808 in illegally reimbursed political contributions.
  • Thomas Rospos, 61, of Belmar, a former Executive Vice President of Birdsall.  Rospos was charged in a prior indictment in the case, but this indictment supersedes the earlier one. He allegedly made at least $241,000 in illegally reimbursed political contributions.
  • William Birdsall, 64, of Manchester, Howard’s brother. He holds the title of Senior Vice President and is a significant shareholder of the firm. He is semi-retired.  He allegedly made at least $74,459 in illegally reimbursed political contributions.
  • Alan Hilla Sr., 73, of Brielle. He is Executive Vice President for Business Development for Birdsall and a significant shareholder of Birdsall.  He is also semi-retired.  He allegedly made at least $148,309 in illegally reimbursed political contributions.
  • Scott MacFadden, 58, of Brick, Chief Administrative Officer of Birdsall.  He allegedly made at least $77,957 in illegally reimbursed political contributions.
  • James Johnston, 51, of North Brunswick. He is President of the Environmental Consulting Division of Birdsall and a significant shareholder.  He allegedly made at least $45,797 in illegally reimbursed political contributions.
  • Robert Gerard, 52, of Wall. He is the former Chief Marketing Officer of Birdsall and was formerly a significant shareholder. He allegedly made at least $48,700 in illegally reimbursed political contributions.

Each of the defendants is charged with conspiracy, two counts of money laundering, making false representations for government contracts, misconduct by a corporate official, tampering with public records or information, falsifying records, prohibited corporation contributions through employees, and concealment or misrepresentation of contributions or expenditures.

The amounts listed for illegal contributions by the defendants are approximate figures based on the investigation to date, and the investigation is ongoing, the attoney general's office said. 

In a statement, Birdsall criticized the indictments.

"We find it regrettable that the State has made this decision after the company has voluntarily made sweeping changes to its leadership and internal processes over the past 10 months to ensure that such actions could never occur again," spokesman Joe Orlando said. "Birdsall Services Group will continue to serve its many clients in full compliance with the new standards it implemented along with its long history of professional competence."

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Thomas W. Sumners Jr. in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Ocean County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment on the charges.

If convicted, the defendants could face between 10 and 20 years in prison on each count of conspiracy and money laundering alone. The remaining charges all carry prison terms between three and ten years.

Altogether, each defendant could also face fines of more than $1.3 million.

george coffenberg March 26, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Here is an article explaining how pay to play is getting around the law http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04/how_nj_pacs_are_skirting_the_l.html
Keith March 26, 2013 at 11:03 PM
I hope they get Gloucester Townships Mayor David R. Mayer and his Team of Crooks Next. This is a good sign. That Mayor is a Smooth Criminal Check out the story below. Mayor used his influence by breaking the color of law to influence the courts to throw out pay to play and replace it with him and his councils version and dirty rules. The clerk should be in jail for what she did. A five-member petition committee seeking a local pay-to-play ban sued the Gloucester Township clerk this week for refusing to certify their petition based on advice she received from the municipal attorney. The township has until May 31 to respond to the lawsuit, which was both filed at the Camden County Hall of Justice and served on the township on Wednesday. A Superior Court hearing is tentatively scheduled for June 8. South Jersey Citizens (SJC) labeled township Solicitor David Carlamere a "pay to play campaign finance laundering PAC (political action committee) operator" in a scathing statement announcing the lawsuit its members filed against Clerk Rosemary DiJosie. "Mr. Carlamere's practice of putting the interests of the local (Democratic) political party ahead of the people of Gloucester Township is exactly why Gloucester Township needs pay to play reform and why the political machine is fighting to block it," the statement reads. "Pay to play" is the phrase used to describe campaign contributors being awarded government contracts by the officials they help get elected.
Keith March 26, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Carlamere did not return a message left at his law office late Thursday morning seeking comment on the lawsuit. The petition committee, which is entirely comprised of township residents, was headed by the conservative watchdog group's executive director, Tom Crone, and its political director, Joshua Berry. The three other committee members are identified on various documents as Elizabeth Holzman, who leads SJC recruiting, Robbie Traylor and Donald Choyce. The petition committee initially submitted its petition, with a total of 1,268 signatures, to the clerk on Feb. 13 The township rejected the petition on Feb. 28 and again on March 14. The committee needed DiJosie to validate a minimum of 1,047 signatures in order for its proposed ordinance to move to Council or, had the governing body failed to adopt it without significant change, to the ballot in November. The clerk informed the committee in mid-March that she had validated a total of 1,091 signatures, but rejected 504 of those based on Carlamere's legal advice. Carlamere's primary reasons for rejecting the petition in mid-February were that the petition forms were circulated by individuals who were not on the five-member committee and that several of the forms were notarized by a Pennsylvania notary public. The solicitor reiterated his assertion that the petitions could be circulated only by committee members in the undated memo DiJosie attached to her March 14 letter.
Keith March 26, 2013 at 11:05 PM
That opinion resulted in 299 signatures being rejected. Carlamere also rejected 205 signatures found on more than a dozen re-notarized forms, citing the fact that the affadavits SJC obtained in support of them were not signed by the circulator and New Jersey notary public in the presence of the clerk and were not attached to the previously questioned forms when delivered at the municipal building.Earlier this month, the petitioners asked DiJosie in a letter to reconsider her earlier decision, threatening to file a lawsuit to force her hand if she did not certify the petition by April 13. The letter included legal counter-arguments to Carlamere's positions prepared by Renée Steinhagen, an attorney with nonprofit New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center. NJ Appleseed assists grassroots reformers who use the initiative-and-referendum process under the state's Faulkner Act-established governments.
Keith March 26, 2013 at 11:05 PM
DiJosie declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by phone Thursday afternoon. Mayor David Mayer did not return a message left at his municipal office Thursday morning. Berry cited Democrats' main argument in the legal battle between Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera and Republican opponent Shelly Lovett following the 2011 4th Legislative District Assembly race in expressing his disappointment with township officials."I find it ironic the same Mayer-Council team that argued 'voter disenfranchisement' following the 2011 Assembly race and subsequent lawsuit would in turn disenfranchise the voters who signed this petition," he said. "I am appalled local officials would resort to dirty tactics and wasting taxpayer dollars to prevent good government reforms like this."
Keith March 26, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Camden County Courts, prosecutors, judges and the GT Clerk need to be under a federal investigation. This is the dirtiest pay to play done in the history of New Jersey. Gloucester Township Mayor continues using these courts and legal systems to violate the color of law and official Misconduct. He should be in federal prison for what he and Carlemere did in this Pay to Play case. This is the worst in New Jersey's History.
George Conner March 26, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Gloucester Township is the worse when it comes to contract rigging and bidding. The Mayor of the township is Scum
Sal March 27, 2013 at 10:49 AM
It seems like the only good days that We the People have in NJ is when the headlines read ___ "FBI Arrests 11 NJ poliicians".

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