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Exec Pleads Guilty to Political Fraud

Friday, December 7, 2012

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A former executive of a large, politically connected New Jersey engineering firm has pleaded guilty to helping the company disguise illegal political contributions over the last four years.

Philip Angarone, former director of marketing for Birdsall Services Group, pleaded guilty Nov. 30 to an accusation charging him with third-degree tampering with public records or information and fourth-degree prohibited corporation contributions through employees.

Prosecutors said the company, based in Sea Girt, NJ, makes millions of dollars in government contracts each year. The company, which dates to 1919, has a vast portfolio of government, municipal and institutional clients.

The company did not respond Thursday (Dec. 6) to a request for comment.

Under the plea agreement, Angarone faces up to 364 days in county jail. He must forfeit $26,775 that was reimbursed to him by Birdsall Services Group for illegal contributions, as well as any additional contributions returned to him, and he will be barred from public contracts for five years.

NJ.gov

Philip Angarone pleaded guilty to helping his  company disguise political contributions.

Sentencing for Angarone is scheduled for April 26, 2013.

'Previously Existing' Scheme

Angarone, who pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels in Ocean County, NJ, said that when he joined the firm in 2008, he participated in a previously existing scheme to make illegal political contributions.

"Mr. Angarone, whose former firm receives millions of dollars each year in goverment contracts, admitted he and others at the firm participated in a corrupt scheme to evade New Jersey's Pay-to-Play Law," said Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa.

Angarone said that he and other shareholders and employees of the firm would make personal political contributions of $300 or less, which does not have to be reported to the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

Instead of Birdsall making poltical contributions that could disqualify it from public contracts, Angarone said that he or others at Birdsall would then bundle together multiple personal checks and send them to the appropriate campaign or political organization.

Birdsall Services Group

Angarone said the scheme was in place when he started with the company in 2008. Birdsall makes millions of dollars a year from government contracts.

"Illegal corporate contributions like those in this case undermine the fair and open public contracting process needed to ensure that government agencies strictly serve the public interest, not the interests of politcally connected firms," Chiesa said.

Angarone also said that he and the other shareholders had been illegally reimbursed by the company in the form of added bonus payments. The firm would falsely omit the illegally reimbursed contributions in documents filed with the ELEC and with government agencies that awarded it contracts, he said.

Continuing Investigation

Every for-profit business entity in New Jersey that has received $50,000 or more in government contracts in a calendar year must file the Business Entity Annual Statement (Form BE) with ELEC to report public contracts it has received and reportable political contributions it has made.

"Our investigation into alleged illegal corporate political contributions made on behalf of Birdsall Services Group is continuing," said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice.

Angarone said that on the Forms BE filed for Birdsall, he and others at the company fraudulently failed to disclose the reimbursed political contributions.

He also admitted that the firm filed numerous false Certifications of Compliance in connection with proposals submitted for public contracts stating that it was complying with pay-to-play rules.

"This elaborate scheme continued for years and involved scores of purported personal contributions that were under the $300 reporting threshold. The reality was that the company was sending out bundles of checks to campaigns and political organizations," added Taylor.

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Criminal acts; Engineers; Government contracts; Politics

Comment from Thomas Sharp, (12/7/2012, 1:52 PM)

you failed to mention if the donations went to the obama or other democrat campaign and what they may have received in return as Americans and small businesses across our great country are suffering from just this sort of corrupt activity.


Comment from Bill Connor, Jr., (12/8/2012, 7:14 PM)

Thomas, I like how you mention only donations to to Democratic campaigns. Republicans are above corruption? I think not!


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