Former Bergenfield Borough Attorney Sentenced to Three Years’ Probation in Prison for Mail and Tax Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 29, 2012|
NEWARK, NJ—The former borough attorney for Bergenfield, New Jersey was sentenced to three years of probation today for his role in a mail fraud scheme and failure to file federal income tax returns, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Dennis J. Oury, 62, of Naples, Florida, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler on September 29, 2009, to one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud and one count of failing to file federal income tax returns. Judge Chesler also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to the documents filed in this case, statements made in court, and evidence introduced at trial against Oury’s former co-defendant, Joseph A. Ferriero:
In late 2001, Oury and Ferriero, who was then the Bergen County Democratic chairman, created a company called Governmental Grants Consulting that purported to assist municipalities in obtaining grants and low-interest loans from government agencies. Oury and Ferriero agreed to conceal their interests in the company while profiting from Bergen County municipalities—Bergenfield specifically—where Oury was to use his influence as a municipal official, and Ferriero was to use his influence as a dominant political party chairman to secure local government contracts.
On January 1, 2002, at the Bergenfield municipal government annual reorganization meeting, Oury was appointed to serve as the Borough’s municipal attorney. At the same meeting, despite the fact that GGC was still in the planning stages and had yet to be formally organized as a company, Bergenfield retained GGC to serve as its grants consultant and agreed to pay it a $6,000 retainer fee plus an additional fee calculated as a percentage of any grants or loans received. Also at that meeting, Oury provided advice to the mayor and council about the GGC contract that was intended to satisfy their concerns about the company and encourage them to hire GGC.
Neither Oury nor Ferriero, however, disclosed at that time or later their ownership interest in GGC. Oury went on to exercise his official power as borough attorney to further a grant-aided real estate purchase between Bergenfield and a private estate—all as Oury and Ferriero stood to gain personally from GGC and Bergenfield. Simultaneously, Oury billed Bergenfield for his work as borough attorney on the real estate acquisition.
By late 2002, Bergen County awarded Bergenfield $800,000 in grant money for the estate acquisition, and in November 2003, the state Green Acres program awarded Bergenfield a $600,000 grant and loan package (ultimately, Bergenfield did not receive the full $600,000). Consequently, based on the successful grant applications, the Borough of Bergenfield issued a check for $128,625 to GGC, representing its “Consulting Grant Fulfillment Fees.” Oury thereafter received a check in the amount of $25,016.97, and Ferriero a check for $27,538.04, with the rest disbursed to other individuals associated with GGC.
Ferriero was tried in October 2009, and the jury returned guilty verdicts against him on October 22, 2009, finding that he had conspired with Oury to commit honest services mail fraud. In July 2010, Judge Chesler dismissed the indictment as to Ferriero on the basis of the Supreme Court’s June 2010 decision in Skilling v. United States. Oury cooperated with the government and testified against Ferriero at trial.
In addition to the sentence of probation, Judge Chesler fined Oury $17,500.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; and IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig, deputy chief of U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.