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February 2, 11

NEWS / Three Administrators at Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission Arrested on Official Misconduct Charges i


TRENTON – Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that three high-level officials at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission were arrested today on charges that they directed subordinate employees to complete repairs or improvements at their private homes or the homes of people close to them while the employees were on agency time during their regular work shifts for the PVSC.

According to Director Taylor, detectives from the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau arrested the following individuals this morning at the offices of the PVSC, adjacent to the agency’s wastewater treatment plant on Wilson Avenue in Newark:

* Anthony Ardis, 56, of Paterson, a former PVSC Commissioner who currently is Clerk to the Board of Commissioners and Director of Management Services at the PVSC;
* Kevin Keogh, 45, of Roseland, Superintendent for Special Services at the PVSC; and
* Chester Mazza, 69, of Totowa, Assistant Superintendent for Special Services.

Each man was charged by complaint with the second-degree crime of official misconduct. The defendants will be transported to the Passaic County Jail, with bail for each set at $75,000.

“These defendants allegedly used their supervisory positions at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission to require subordinates to complete home improvements for them while on the job for this public agency,” said Attorney General Dow. “We have zero tolerance for officials who unlawfully use their public positions for personal gain.”

“We allege that these three defendants illegally exploited skilled employees, vehicles and equipment which the public entrusted to their management,” said Director Taylor. “We are continuing our investigation into allegations of misuse of public resources at this agency.”

The PVSC is a state agency responsible for managing and regulating collection and disposal of wastewater generated in a four-county area along the Passaic Valley River Basin, encompassing parts of Bergen, Passaic, Essex and Hudson counties. The charges stem from an ongoing investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The investigation is being conducted and coordinated by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Manis, Sgt. Lisa Shea and Detective Michael Behar.

It is alleged that between January 2006 and May 2010, each defendant, on more than one occasion, directed subordinate employees, who were skilled trade workers at the sewage treatment plant, to complete home improvements at his private home or, in the case of Ardis, at the homes of his mother and a girlfriend, during hours that the employees were on the job for the PVSC. The state’s investigation revealed that the subordinate employees used PVSC vehicles, equipment and tools to travel to the homes and complete the home improvements. They were not paid by the defendants for any of the work performed at the private homes.

With respect to Ardis, it is alleged specifically that on two occasions, approximately two to three years ago, two PVSC employees were directed to go to the home of Ardis’ mother in Paterson, while on agency time, to tear down sheet rock in the garage. On another occasion, between 2007 and 2008, four or five PVSC employees were allegedly directed to install wood panels and hook up a microwave in the kitchen of the mother while on duty for the PVSC. It is further alleged that one to two years ago, two PVSC employees were directed to go to the home of Ardis’ girlfriend during their regular agency work shifts and replace two air conditioning units.

With respect to Keogh, it is alleged specifically that two employees for the PVSC were directed to remove old windows and install replacement windows at Keogh’s private residence in Roseland during their regular shifts for the agency. It is alleged that on another occasion, PVSC employees worked on a deck at Keogh’s home on agency time. On a third occasion, two other agency employees were allegedly directed to install two cabinet doors in Keogh’s kitchen while on the clock for the PVSC. It is alleged that one employee was also directed to cut and finish doors in a workshop at the sewage treatment plant that were later installed in Keogh’s kitchen.

With respect to Mazza, it is alleged specifically that on one occasion, two employees for the PVSC were directed to install a roof vent or fan in the roof of Mazza’s home in Totowa while on agency time. It is alleged that on another occasion, two agency employees were directed to repair a wall along the outside of Mazza’s home while on their regular shifts for the PVSC.

The charge of second-degree official misconduct carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison. For each defendant, conduct is alleged that occurred after April 14, 2007, when enhanced penalties for official misconduct took effect. As a result, each defendant would face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without possibility of parole if convicted based on that alleged conduct. Second-degree offenses also carry a fine of up to $150,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because the charges are indictable offenses, they will be presented to a grand jury for potential indictment.

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 page 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.

http://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases11/pr20110201a.html

 




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