Tuesday, December 20, 2011

John Corea Pleads Guilty to Theft While Director at HPU

Yesterday, former Hoboken Parking Utility Driector John Corea pled guilty to theft. Below is the release from the NJ Attorney General's Office....
Ex-Director of Hoboken Parking Utility Pleads Guilty to Official Misconduct for His Role in $600,000 Theft of Parking Meter Funds 

Contractor from Toms River previously pleaded guilty to theft
John Corea
TRENTON – Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that John P. Corea, the former director of the Hoboken Parking Utility, has pleaded guilty to official misconduct for his role in the theft of $600,000 by a Toms River contractor whose company was hired by the City of Hoboken to collect coins from city parking meters.

According to Director Taylor, Corea, 47, of Hoboken, pleaded guilty on Friday afternoon (Dec. 16), to a second-degree charge of official misconduct before Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson Jr. in Ocean County. The state will recommend under the plea agreement that Corea be sentenced to eight years in state prison, including three years of parole ineligibility. He must pay $300,000 in restitution to the City of Hoboken and will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey. The charge against Corea was contained in an indictment obtained as a result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey State Police.

“This defendant corruptly exploited his public office, at a high cost to the City of Hoboken,” said Attorney General Dow. “We are seeking a lengthy prison sentence for this flagrant betrayal of trust.”

“In this difficult fiscal climate, taxpayers need to have confidence that government officials will act as honest and vigilant stewards of all public revenues,” said Director Taylor. “We will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute corrupt public officials such as Corea.”

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey J. Manis took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Judge Hodgson will schedule Corea to be sentenced in February 2012.

In pleading guilty, Corea admitted, among other things, that, while director of the Hoboken Parking Utility, he steered three separate no-bid contracts to United Textile Fabricators to collect, count and manage the coins from the city’s parking meters. He admitted that he made false statements to the city council about the qualifications and experience of the company, which is a coin-operated arcade game manufacturer. He further admitted that he came to believe that United Textile and its owner, Brian A. Petaccio, 51, of Toms River, had stolen a substantial amount of the city’s parking revenues, but did not take any steps to stop the thefts or notify the city.

Petaccio pleaded guilty on Sept. 30, 2009 to an accusation charging him with second-degree theft by unlawful taking for stealing more than $1.1 million in coins from Hoboken’s parking meters between June 2005 and April 2008. Petaccio faces up to seven years in prison under his plea agreement and also must pay $300,000 in restitution to the City of Hoboken. After an audit in 2007 uncovered parking revenue shortfalls, Petaccio and his company returned approximately $575,000 to the city. However, Petaccio admitted, in pleading guilty, that he diverted an additional $600,000 that was not reported to the city. Petaccio will also be scheduled for sentencing in February 2012.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey J. Manis of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The investigation was conducted by Detective Peter Layng of the State Police Official Corruption Bureau North Unit and Sgt. Lisa Shea of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, with additional assistance from Deputy Attorney General Perry Primavera and Administrative Analyst Kathleen Ratliff, also of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

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

Here is the link to the press release: http://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases11/pr20111219b.html