NEWARK, N.J. – A compliance officer with the Union City Community Development Agency (UCCDA) today admitted that he manipulated the contractor selection process for federally funded residential rehabilitation and sidewalk replacement projects, causing losses of $40,000 to $95,000, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Washington Borgono, 65, of North Bergen, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls in Newark federal court to Count Two of an indictment charging him with obtaining by fraud, converting and misapplying government funds provided by the UCCDA.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between April 2007 and February 2013, Borgono was a compliance officer at the UCCDA, a local government agency that received grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Among the programs that the UCCDA operated through this HUD funding were a residential rehabilitation program and a sidewalk replacement program.
From 2007 through 2013, Borgono manipulated the contractor selection process for HUD-funded residential rehabilitation and sidewalk replacement projects through false and misleading bids. Borgono instructed certain contractors, such as Leovaldo Fundora, a contractor in Guttenberg, New Jersey, to obtain and submit higher, phony bids from other contractors in order to improperly award residential rehabilitation and sidewalk replacement projects to the contractors of Borgono’s choice. Borgono also instructed certain contractors, such as Joseph Lado, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, to bid under a certain specified amount on residential rehabilitation and sidewalk replacement projects, to ensure those contractors obtained those projects. At other times, Borgono instructed certain contractors to submit phony higher bids from their own companies, for residential rehabilitation and sidewalk replacement projects, to ensure that certain contractors were awarded the projects. In other instances, Borgono discarded the lowest bid for sidewalk replacement projects to ensure that Borgono’s contractors of choice would be awarded the sidewalk replacement projects. Fundora, Lado, UCCDA Inspector Johnny Garces and Stanley Parzych, a contractor in Jersey City, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges for their roles in this scheme and await sentencing.
The charge of obtaining by fraud, converting and misapplying government funds carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss associated with the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for July 19, 2016.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher; 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 the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barbara R. Llanes and José R. Almonte of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Louis A. Zayas Esq., North Bergen