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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Friday, September 22, 2017

Former Executive Director Of Newark Watershed Conservation And Development Corp. Sentenced To 102 Months In Prison For Role In Nearly $1 Million Kickback And Fraud Scheme

NEWARK, N.J. – The former executive director of the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. (NWCDC) was sentenced today to 102 months in prison for accepting nearly $1 million in kickback payments in exchange for her assistance in awarding work to various vendors and contractors of the agency, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.


Linda Watkins Brashear, 57, of West Orange, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge José Linares to Counts 1 and 5 of a five-count information charging her with a wire fraud scheme to defraud the NWCDC by accepting bribes and kickback payments from contractors and an employee of the corporation, which were funded by payments from the NWCDC based on fraudulently inflated invoices or issued for work that was not performed by the contractors (Count 1), and subscribing a false tax return for the year 2012 (Count 5). Judge Linares imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.


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


Brashear served as the executive director for the NWCDC from 2007 to March 2013. During this time, she and others devised a scheme to defraud the NWCDC of her honest services in the affairs of the NWCDC and of the NWCDC’s money and property. The object of the scheme was for Brashear and others to accept a substantial stream of concealed and undisclosed kickbacks from NWCDC contractors and an employee of the NWCDC for her direct and indirect benefit in exchange for action and assistance in the affairs of the NWCDC, and for her violating her official duties and responsibilities.


Between 2008 and March 2013, Brashear accepted approximately $999,000, in kickbacks financed through the receipt of payments by contractors and an employee of the NWCDC that were fraudulently obtained from the NWCDC with Brashear’s assistance, through materially false pretenses, representations and promises. In particular, Brashear accepted kickbacks as summarized below:


Time Period

Approximate Amount of Kickbacks

Paid By

September 2012 - March 2013


NWCDC “Employee 1”

January 2009 – December 2012


James Porter (identified in Count 1 as “partner of the special projects manager”)

January 2008 – June 2012


Printing contractor

January 2011 – January 2013


Marketing contractor

September 2012 – April 2013


Cleaning contractor

April 2009 – February 2013


Homeland Security contractor

January 2009 – May 2012


Interior designer

January 2008 – March 2013


Internet research consultant

October 2011 – March 2013


Political consultant

April 2011 – September 2012


Media consultant

January 2008 – March 2013


Giacomo “Jack” DeRosa

May 2011 – March 2013


Security consultant


Brashear routinely accepted payments from some of these contractors through Donald Bernard Sr.  Brashear and Bernard also used their email accounts to facilitate this kickback and fraud scheme. Bernard was previously charged in December 2014 in a 20-count indictment with various federal offenses involving a scheme to defraud the NWCDC of his honest services and the NWCDC’s money and property by accepting and agreeing to accept bribes and kickbacks from certain NWCDC contractors, which were financed at least in part through the contractors’ fraudulent padding of invoices to the NWCDC. 


Brashear admitted taking payments from James Porter, a contractor who pleaded guilty in January 2015 to conspiracy to defraud the NWCDC of honest services, money and property through the use of interstate wire transmissions, as well as tax evasion for his role in the kickback scheme. The roofing contractor referred to in Count 1 of the information, Giacomo “Jack” DeRosa, was charged in a six-count fraud and money laundering indictment in December 2014 for his role in passing kickbacks to Bernard, which were shared, in part, with Brashear.


Brashear also admitted making and subscribing a U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040, for tax year 2012, signed and filed with the IRS under penalty of perjury, which she did not believe to be true and correct, including approximately $316,000 in unreported income that she received through the kickback payments.


In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Brashear to three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $1.3 million in restitution.


On July 13, 2017, Judge Linares sentenced Bernard to eight years in prison for his role in the kickback scheme and for filing false tax returns. DeRosa was sentenced on Oct. 25, 2016, to six months in prison. On July 20, 2017, Porter was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in the scheme.


Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher; IRS – Criminal Investigation, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Newark office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, as well as criminal investigators of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick also thanked the N.J. Office of the State Comptroller, under the direction of State Comptroller Philip James Degnan, for its assistance in the investigation.


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


Defense counsel: Michael Baldassare Esq., Newark

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 
Updated September 25, 2017