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Press Release

Former Contractor Of Newark Watershed Conservation And Development Corporation Admits Role In Conspiracy To Fraudulently Bill The Agency

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A West Orange, New Jersey, man who was the sole proprietor of two companies that purportedly provided printing and digital marketing services to the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation (NWCDC) today admitted his role in a conspiracy to fraudulently bill the NWCDC for more than $110,000 for work that was never performed, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Kevin Gleaton, 52, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud with Donald Bernard, Sr., Linda Watkins Brashear, and others, to defraud the NWCDC of money and property and one count of misuse of Social Security numbers in connection with personal bankruptcy proceedings.

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

From May 2011 to September 2012, Gleaton conspired with Bernard, who was then employed as manager of Special Projects for the NWCDC, Brashear who was then the NWCDC executive director, and others, to defraud the NWCDC of more than $110,000 for work that was never performed by Gleaton or his companies. Gleaton was the owner of the Synergy Group, a company that received more than $58,000 in 2011 from the NWCDC, purportedly for printing services, as well as Mindshare Media, which received more than $52,000 from the NWCDC in 2012, purportedly for digital marketing services.

Gleaton deposited the payments issued to his companies by the NWCDC on the basis of fraudulent invoices, and then provided a substantial portion of the money received – more than $97,000 – to Bernard, who, in turn, shared a portion with Brashear, among others. Gleaton provided the money to Bernard either directly, or indirectly through the “consultant intermediary,” an individual who operated a firm that provided consulting services to the NWCDC. The conspiracy was facilitated by interstate wire transmissions, including emails sent by Bernard to Brashear and the consultant intermediary. Brashear pleaded guilty in December 2015 to scheming to defraud the NWCDC of her honest services in the affairs of the NWCDC by taking kickbacks (from various vendors including Gleaton), and of the NWCDC’s money and property, as well as to subscribing to a false federal personal income tax return. In January 2016, Bernard pleaded guilty to Counts 9 and 10 of a 20-count indictment returned in December 2014, charging him with the use of interstate facilities to promote and facilitate bribery in violation of the Travel Act, and Count 1 of an information that charged him with making and subscribing a false personal tax return.

Gleaton also admitted to using multiple Social Security numbers, other than the number lawfully issued to him by the Commission of Social Security, in connection with his bankruptcy filings in 2011 and 2012.

The counts of wire fraud conspiracy and misuse of Social Security numbers each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greatest of $250,000 per count or twice the gain or loss resulting from the offenses. Sentencing is scheduled for October 19, 2016.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher; the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations, New York Field Division under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John Grasso; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, Newark office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; IRS–Criminal Investigation, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and criminal investigators of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. U.S. Attorney Fishman also thanked the New Jersey Comptroller’s Office, under the direction of Philip J. Degnan, for its assistance in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mala Ahuja Harker, Jacques Pierre and Leslie Schwartz of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division.

Defense counsel:  Ray Hamlin Esq., Newark

Updated September 1, 2016

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 16-203