YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A state grand jury today indicted Timothy J. Grossi, deputy director of North Bergen’s DPW, on charges of ordering subordinates to work on political campaigns and handle personal chores at his and other people’s homes on taxpayers’ dimes.
Grossi, 72, of Jersey City, is the fourth man to be charged in the state Division of Criminal Justice’s ongoing probe into alleged abuses involving township DPW employees.
North Bergen DPW Superintendent James Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit official misconduct in Septemeber, admitting that he directed DPW employees to handle hundreds of hours of chores at his home and to work on campaigns while being paid by the township.
Ten days later, DPW supervisors Troy Bunero and Francis Longo were indicted for allegedly directing employees to do personal chores for Wiley and work on campaigns.
Grossi, who pulled down $133,000 a year from the job, was Wiley’s boss, state authorities said. They contend that he ordered Wiley to send DPW employees to engage in campaign work on behalf of candidates.
Wiley has already admitted that he sometimes assigned employees directly but also conveyed the orders to his immediate subordinates, Bunero and Longo, who allegedly assigned employees to work on campaigns.
Under the terms of his plea deal, Wiley faces five to 10 years in state prison, forfeits job and can’t hold another paid by the public again. He also must pay restitution to the township, as well as assist investigators.
Today’s eight-count state grand jury indictment charges Grossi with conspiracy, misconduct, theft, misapplication of government property and tampering with public records, among other crimes.
If convicted of the misconduct charge alone, Grossi would go to prison a minimum of five years without parole. A conspiracy conviction could add another five, state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa
“Local taxpayers should never be asked to foot the bill for this type of corruption,” Chiesa said.
Grossi is charged with one count of official misconduct for allegedly directing that subordinate employees work on campaigns on three occasions while being paid by the township:
(1) Nov. 4, 2008, in connection with a mayoral campaign in Bayonne;
(2) May 12, 2009, in connection with a mayoral campaign in Jersey City; (3) Nov. 2, 2010, in Jersey City, in connection with a campaign for sheriff.
The workers “engaged in activities such as canvassing neighborhoods, distributing campaign literature, and posting signs,” Chiesa said.
Wiley, Bunero and Longo were also charged in connection with the campaign work on those dates.
The second count of official misconduct alleges that Grossi directly ordered or had another order that one or more DPW employees conduct “personal tasks for him or others while being paid by the township, including installing windows and window air conditioning units at his home, performing gardening work or other personal tasks at the homes of others, picking up or delivering political literature, and taking photographs of political signs,” Chiesa said.
According to the indictment, the employees assigned to work election campaigns or perform personal tasks typically went to the sites using DPW vehicles while using tools and equipment belonging to the department.
Grossi is charged with the counts of theft and misapplication of government property for his alleged role in the unlawful use of employee services, vehicles, tools and equipment for the election campaigns and personal tasks.
In the two counts related to tampering with or falsifying records, Grossi is charged in connection with his alleged involvement in the submission of fraudulent timesheets related to his own hours and the hours of subordinate employees, which allegedly covered up the unlawful work done on campaigns and on personal tasks.
Deputy Attorneys General Cynthia M. Vazquez and Analisa Holmes presented the case to the state grand jury for the DCJ’s Corruption Bureau.
The ongoing investigation is being led by Detective Garrett Brown, Investigator Joseph C. Salvatore, Lt. Robert Stemmer, and Deputy Attorneys General Vazquez and Holmes.