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March 31, 11

NEWS / Director of County Garage in Passaic County Pleads Guilty to Stealing Cash & Engine from Vehicles Se

Faces state prison sentence in investigation by Division of Criminal Justice

TRENTON – Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that the director of the Passaic County Garage pleaded guilty to official misconduct charges today for stealing a large amount of cash found hidden in a car that was seized by law enforcement, and stealing an engine from a second vehicle.

According to Director Taylor, Paolo “Paul” Mariano, 53, of Wayne, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree official misconduct before Superior Court Judge Marilyn C. Clark in Passaic County. One count is for the theft of cash, and the second is for the theft of the engine. The charges stem from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

Under the plea agreement, Mariano faces a sentence of three to five years in state prison. He must pay $20,000 in restitution. As a result of his plea, Mariano forfeited his position as director of the Passaic County Garage, and he will be permanently barred from public employment. Deputy Attorney General Vincent J. Militello took the plea for the Division of Criminal Justice.

“The cash stolen by Mariano would have been subject to forfeiture to fund further law enforcement efforts,” said Attorney General Dow. “By stealing from the public, he betrayed the trust placed in him as a county official.”

“You could call this a crime of opportunity,” said Director Taylor. “Mariano certainly seized his opportunity to behave corruptly.”

In pleading guilty, Mariano admitted that he stole cash totaling approximately $20,000 that was found inside a 2000 Ford Taurus that was seized during a narcotics investigation by the Passaic County Drug Task Force in 2004. The car was being repaired for use as an undercover car in 2005 when county mechanics found the cash in a hidden compartment. They found several stacks of $100 bills. The mechanics told Mariano, who took possession of the car and cash, directing them not to report anything. Mariano then had a mechanic disassemble the car.

Mariano also admitted that in November 2006, he directed county mechanics to remove an engine from a 1995 Toyota 4-Runner that had been seized by the county. He had the mechanics place the engine into a 1993 Toyota 4-Runner that he had given to his girlfriend but titled in his own name. The stolen engine was in better condition than the one it replaced. Mariano sold that car, with the stolen engine, to an undercover detective on May 14, 2010 for $2,000.

Judge Clark scheduled Mariano to be sentenced on April 21.

The investigation was led by Deputy Attorney General Vincent J. Militello, Deputy Chief Paul Castellvi, Detective Scott Donlan, and Detective Harry Maronpot Jr. They were assisted by Sgt. David Salzmann and Detectives Laura Clarke, Ruben Contreras and Nick Olenick.

Attorney General Dow and Director Taylor noted that the Division of Criminal Justice - Corruption Bureau has established a toll-free Corruption Tipline for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. The statewide Corruption Tipline is 1-866-TIPS-4CJ. Additionally, the public can log on to the Division of Criminal Justice Web site at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing. All information received through the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Tipline or Web page will remain confidential.




AnnaMaria Realbuto
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