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Three Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission Members Put Behind Bars

CLOCKWISE (from top left): Kevin Keough, Paul Bazela, Chester Mazza, Anthony Ardis
CLOCKWISE (from top left): Kevin Keough, Paul Bazela, Chester Mazza, Anthony Ardis Photo Credit: COURTESY: NJ Attorney General

PATERSON, N.J. -- A judge in Paterson on Tuesday sentenced three former supervisors at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) to state prison or jail for having subordinates do work at their homes.

Kevin Keogh, 50, of Roseland, the former superintendent for special services at the PVSC, got five years in state prison.

Paul Bazela, 49, of Northvale, the former foreman of the PVSC carpenter’s shop, got three years in state prison.

Anthony Ardis, 62, of Paterson, a former PVSC commissioner, was sentenced to 90 days in the county jail and one year of probation.

Ardis pleaded guilty on June 1 to conspiracy to commit official misconduct. In addition to serving as a PVSC commissioner, Ardis later was clerk to the board of commissioners, director of management services, and chief ethics officer for the PVSC. Ardis was convicted at trial on the same charges as Bazela in March 2014 but his convictions were overturned on

Bazela guilty on March 17 to theft by unlawful taking for using his authority as foreman to have on-duty PVSC employees perform work at Keogh’s home. Jurors after a trial in March 2014 also convicted him of conspiracy, official misconduct and theft, among other counts, for having PVSC employees do personal jobs for co-defendant Anthony Ardis.

Ardis was convicted at trial on the same charges as Bazela in March 2014 but his convictions were overturned on appeal.

Keogh pleaded guilty on June 21, 2012 to conspiracy and official misconduct for having on-duty PVSC employees complete renovations at his home and run numerous personal errands for him.

All three are permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.

A fourth supervisor, 75-year-old Chester Mazza of Totowa, got probation. Mazza was a former assistant superintendent for special services for the PVSC. He pleaded guilty in May 2012 to theft, admitting that he had subordinate employees do work at his home -- including installing a vent or fan in his roof and repairing a stone wall in his front yard.

“These men arrogantly abused their positions and exploited public workers, vehicles and equipment for their selfish purposes, all at the expense of the taxpayers who fund this state agency,” said Acting Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. “The sentences imposed today demonstrate our resolve to hold public officials accountable if they abuse their power.”

“These defendants were entrusted with the management of public employees and resources, and they betrayed that trust by using them for personal gain,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Manis, who is the deputy bureau chief, and Deputy Attorney General Peter J. Baker handled the sentencing hearings for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Manis was the lead prosecutor on the case. He Assistant Attorney General Heather Taylor tried Bazela and Ardis.

The charges stemmed from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau North Squad.

The PVSC is a state agency responsible for managing and regulating collection and disposal of wastewater generated in a four-county area along the Passaic Valley River Basin, encompassing parts of Bergen, Passaic, Essex and Hudson counties.

Keogh, Ardis and Mazza were immediately terminated from their positions at the PVSC following their arrests in February 2011. Bazela’s employment at the PVSC also was terminated in 2011.

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