FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2011
CAMDEN, N.J. – The president of a South Jersey masonry company pleaded guilty today to submitting false forms to the New Jersey Bricklayers Health and Pension Funds (the benefit funds), U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced today.
Christina Tharpe, 42, of Mays Landing, N.J., entered her guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden federal court to an Information charging her with submitting false statements and making false representations on a benefits funds remittance form.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Tharpe is president of Tharpe-Ferraro Inc., a construction company that had a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Local 5 of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers International Union (BAC). In late 2005, TFI entered into a subcontractor agreement with Chelsea View Associates, LLC (CVA) to perform brick masonry and/or concrete services for a the construction of approximately 60 townhouses being built by CVA in Atlantic City, N.J., between 2005 and July 2007.
According to its CBA, TFI was obligated to remit to the BAC benefit funds specific contributions for each bricklayer who worked at the Chelsea View project. The payments were regulated by the number of hours worked and the hourly wage rates received by each employee. The information contained in the monthly remittance forms is used by the benefit funds to certify its annual reporting obligations to the Federal Department of Labor. Submitting remittance forms to the BAC benefit funds with false information is a violation of federal law. According to the Information, for the months of July, August and September 2006, Ms. Tharpe submitted false remittance forms identifying only two of the many employees who worked on the Chelsea View project for those months, saving TFI up to $70,000 in contributions to the BAC benefit funds. The same false information was factored into the annual 5500 form filed by the BAC with the Department of Labor.
The charges to which Tharpe pleaded guilty carry a maximum potential prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing before Judge Hillman is scheduled for April 5, 2012.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited investigators of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General (OIG), under the direction of Assistant Supervisor in Charge Thomas Sommero.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney V. Grady O’Malley, Senior Litigation Counsel of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.
Defense Attorney: Frank Lentz Esq., Northfield, NJ