Former Bayonne Official Admits Accepting $65,000 In Bribes For Awarding HUD Grant Funds
TRENTON, N.J. - A Hudson County, N.J. man, who served as the senior accountant of the City of Bayonne Department of Community Development (CBDCD) today admitted accepting $65,000 in bribe payments in exchange for his assistance in awarding projects funded by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Anselmo Crisonino, 53, of Bayonne, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to a four-count information charging him with one count of accepting bribe payments totaling approximately $65,000 from Joseph Arrigo, the owner of a contracting company in Bayonne. Crisonino also pleaded guilty to one count of theft and conversion of federal funds ($422,360), one count of conducting an illegal gambling business, and one count of submitting a false tax return for tax year 2011.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The CBDCD was an agency that received funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under a federal program that provided grants up to $20,000 to low income families to rehabilitate their homes and to repair conditions affecting health and safety, accessibility, energy efficiency or code compliance. The CBDCD also provided these HUD funds under the same federal program to nonprofit organizations. Crisonino was responsible for reviewing applications and awarding such funds to qualified applicants.
In September 2010, Crisonino solicited cash bribe payments from Arrigo in exchange for Crisonino’s assistance in awarding HUD grant funds from the CBDCD to Arrigo as the owner of Shadow Contracting LLC. From September 2010 to February 2013, Crisonino received cash payments from Arrigo totaling approximately $65,000 in exchange for Crisonino’s assistance in awarding HUD grant funds from the CBDCD to Arrigo that totaled approximately $426,000.
Between September 2010 and February 2013, Crisonino awarded HUD grant funds to several contractors and plumbers in Bayonne through the CBDCD, despite the fact that Crisonino knew that the submitted bids for the projects were fraudulent and were the result of collusion by the contractors and plumbers. Crisonino also approved change orders on projects where little to no legitimate work had been done by the contractors and plumbers at the job sites. The approved change orders allowed the CBDCD to disperse additional HUD grant funds to the projects that had already reached the maximum $20,000 grant allotment.
Crisonino also pleaded guilty to conducting an illegal gambling business in northern New Jersey. The illegal gambling business was administered and managed through a website that Crisonino and others accessed through usernames and passwords.
He admitted making and subscribing a U.S. Individual Tax Return, Form 1040, for tax year 2011 filed with the IRS, which he did not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter, including approximately $65,000 in unreported income through the bribe payments.
The bribery and theft of government funds charges to which Crisonino pleaded guilty are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. The charge of conducting an illegal gambling business is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The charge of filing a false tax return is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison. All of four charges are also punishable by a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled for June 4, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark: special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen in Newark, with the continuing investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacques S. Pierre of the Special Prosecutions Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven G. Sanders of the Appeals Division.
Defense counsel: Daniel J. Welsh Esq., Jersey City, N.J.