News and Press Releases

N.J. department of labor senior investigator sentenced to five years in prison for bribery scheme



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2012


 

CAMDEN, N.J. – A senior investigator with the N.J. Department of Labor & Workforce Development, Division of Wage and Hour Compliance, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison in connection with a bribery scheme in which he accepted $1.86 million from owners and operators of temporary labor firms in return for his official assistance, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Joseph Rivera, 56, of Winslow, N.J., previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman to an Information charging him with one count each of solicitation and acceptance of a bribe, and tax evasion. Judge Hillman also imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Rivera’s responsibilities as a senior investigator included inspecting temporary labor firms working in southern New Jersey to verify compliance with state wage and hour laws and with regulations regarding taxes and worker’s compensation insurance coverage. Between 2002 and late 2008, he solicited and accepted corrupt cash payment from at least 20 owners or operators of temporary labor firms. Rivera typically calculated the amount of a bribe payment by multiplying $0.25 by the total number of hours worked by a temporary labor firm’s employees.

In exchange for these corrupt payments, Rivera used his position for the benefit of the temporary labor firms. He refrained from inspecting these firms and falsely certified that they were in compliance with state law. Rivera also recommended these firms to other businesses as firms that should be hired.

Rivera also attempted to evade paying taxes on the income derived from the corrupt scheme. For the 2007 tax year he filed an individual tax return that claimed taxable income of $89,696 when he knew his total taxable income was $499,176, upon which he owed $149, 677 in federal income taxes.

Rivera agreed to forfeit monies and property equal to $1.863 million, which represents the proceeds he obtained through the bribery scheme. The forfeitures include $120,400 in cash; two Ocean City, N.J., properties; a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., property; a 2008 Lexus ES 350; eight gold bars; and numerous gold and silver coins.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced Rivera to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $250,000 in restitution to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge JoAnn S. Zuniga; and the FBI’s South Jersey Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George C. Venizelos, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Skahill of the U.S. Attorney’s Office criminal Division in Camden.

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Defense counsel: Lawrence Luongo Jr. Esq., Barrington, N.J.

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