April 16, 2015

Former Bergen County, New Jersey Democratic Chairman Convicted on Racketeering Charges

NEWARK, NJ—A jury today convicted Joseph A. Ferriero, the former chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization (BCDO), in connection with a racketeering scheme involving fraud and soliciting and accepting bribes as a party official, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Ferriero, 57, was found guilty following an eight-week trial before U.S. District Judge Esther B. Salas in Newark federal court. The jury deliberated four days before finding Ferriero guilty of conducting the BCDO’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity (Count One), using the mail and facilities in interstate commerce to promote bribery and distribute bribe proceeds (Count Three) and wire fraud (Count Five).

“Joseph Ferriero was convicted today of running a local political organization as a criminal enterprise, using his power and position to line his pockets,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “The evidence we presented at trial described a racketeering operation that ran on influence peddling, bribes and kickbacks. Rooting out and prosecuting this kind of political corruption is a constant priority for this office. The people of New Jersey are entitled to honest public service.”

“Today’s conviction of Joseph A. Ferriero reaffirms the FBI’s commitment to combat public corruption in New Jersey and serves as a reminder that those individuals who violate the public’s trust will be held accountable,” Richard M. Frankel, the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge, Newark, said.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

Ferriero served as the chairman of the BCDO from 1998 until January 2009 and was the sole member of SJC Consulting LLC. The jury found Ferriero accepted bribes in his capacity as BCDO chairman in the course of a scheme involving SJC. Ferriero agreed with John Carrino, a Nutley, New Jersey-based attorney and software developer that Ferriero would recommend and provide a favorable opinion of the software developer and his companies to various public officials in Bergen County with whom Ferriero had influence. The software developer agreed to pay Ferriero one-quarter to one-third of the gross receipts from any contract obtained as a result of Ferriero’s efforts. Ferriero’s financial interest in the software developer’s public contracts was completely hidden using two shell companies, one of which was created and incorporated in Nevada for the sole purpose of contracting with and accepting payments from another shell company controlled by the software developer.

The racketeering charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison; the Travel Act charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison; and the wire fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Each count of the indictment also carries a maximum $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 27, 2015.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Frankel, and investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Supervisory Criminal Investigator Thomas Mahoney, with the investigation leading to today’s conviction.

The government is represented by Counsel to the U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig and Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Llanes of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.