Hudson County Contractor Indicted on Additional Charges of Paying Bribes to Fire Official
NEWARK, N.J. – A Hudson County, N.J., man was indicted today on an additional charge of paying thousands of dollars in bribes to a fire official in exchange for the elimination of outstanding fines and penalties on certain buildings that had fire code violations, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Victor Coca, 48, of West New York, N.J. was also charged by a federal grand jury with two counts of violating the Travel Act. Coca had been arrested May 20, 2014, by special agents of the FBI and charged by complaint with one count of paying bribes to the fire official for the West New York Bureau of Fire Prevention.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Coca was the owner of a general contracting company located in West New York. There were two buildings in West New York with outstanding fines for fire code violations – one building had approximately $14,500 in fines and the other had approximately $8,730,000 in fines and penalties.
Coca paid the fire official cash bribes to reduce or eliminate the outstanding fines. For the first building, Coca paid a $2,000 cash bribe to the fire official to eliminate the outstanding $14,500 in fines. For the second building, Coca wrote paid a $5,000 cash bribe to the fire official, in return for the fire official reducing the $8,730,000 in outstanding penalties, thus making the amount due to the West New York Bureau of Fire Prevention only the initial fine amount of $5,000.
The charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss arising out of the offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s indictment.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Zak Aljaludi Esq., Union City, N.J.