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.