North Bergen, New Jersey Compliance Officer Indicted for Rigging Contractor Selection Process for Community Development Projects
NEWARK, NJ—A compliance officer with the Union City Community Development Agency (UCCDA) was indicted today for allegedly manipulating the contractor selection process for federally-funded residential rehabilitation and sidewalk replacement projects, causing losses of at least $250,000, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Washington Borgono, 64, of North Bergen, New Jersey, was charged with one count of obtaining by fraud, converting and misapplying government funds provided by the UCCDA and one count of conspiring with others to do the same. The indictment was returned today by a federal grand jury sitting in Newark.
According to the indictment:
From April 2007 through February 2013, Borgono was a compliance officer at the UCCDA, a local government agency that receives grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for home improvement projects, sidewalk replacement and other projects.
From 2007 through 2013, Borgono conspired with Johnny Garces, 52, of Union City, New Jersey, a UCCDA inspector, and contractors Joseph Lado, 67, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, Leovaldo Fundora, 54, of Guttenberg, New Jersey, and others to use false and misleading bids to rig the selection process for HUD-funded projects. In addition to instructing Lado, Fundora and other contractors to submit phony higher bids from competitors or their own companies, Borgono and Garces used fabricated higher bids or threw out lower bids in order to secure certain UCCDA projects for Lado, Fundora and others.
The charge of obtaining by fraud, converting and misapplying government funds carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and Borgono is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Garces, Lado and Fundora previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme and await sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel, and special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, for their work in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara R. Llanes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.