Democrat Leader Convicted of Fraud
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
In yet another case of political misconduct in New Jersey, a federal jury convicted former Bergen County Democratic Organization chairman Joseph Ferriero of conspiracy and mail fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud Bergenfield of the honest services of its borough attorney Dennis Oury, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police’s Fraud & White Collar Crime Committee.
Yesterday, it was determined that Ferriero faces a 60-year prison sentence when he is sentenced on February 10, 2010. The conviction also carries a fine of $250,000.00, according to Judge Stanley R. Chesler, who presided over the trial.
The jury found Ferriero guilty of one count of conspiracy and two counts of mail fraud related to his scheme with Oury to create a grants consulting firm, Governmental Grants Consulting (GGC), which they used to solicit a municipal contract with the borough while hiding Ouryâ€™s involvement and financial interests in the company. The jury acquitted Ferriero of five other mail fraud counts.
Testimony in the trial of Ferriero began on October 1 and the jury started its deliberations on the morning of October 22 and returned its verdicts approximately six hours later. Two days before both Oury and Ferriero were to go on trial together, Oury pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count and to one count of failing to file a federal tax return. Oury subsequently testified in support of the governmentâ€™s case against Ferriero.
â€œThe verdict puts an end to an era of abusive power and politics by Mr. Ferriero,â€ said FBI Special Agent in Charge Weysan Dun.
â€œFrom this verdict, we learn again that the citizens of New Jersey must play an active role in their government and question their leaders. They must inquire who stands to profit from the deals and decisions off their leaders. If the answers to those questions don’t add up or are unsatisfactory, then citizens must not be afraid to enlist the help of the FBI.â€
The charges at trial related to the creation of GGC by Ferriero and Oury and their efforts to conceal their interests while profiting from Bergen County municipalities â€“- Bergenfield specifically â€“- where 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 Boroughâ€™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.
Neither Oury nor Ferriero, however, disclosed at that time or any time subsequently 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 â€“- 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.
Trial testimony â€“- including from Oury on behalf of the government â€“- revealed that he and Ferriero took steps to conceal their roles in GGC and prevent Ouryâ€™s undisclosed conflict of interest from coming to light. For example, despite the fact that Ferriero was the moving force behind GGC and was its largest shareholder, Ferriero drafted a shareholder agreement assigning positions of president and secretary to others with only minimal involvement with GGC.
In 2002, GGC applied on Bergenfieldâ€™s behalf for $1.4 million in funding from a Bergen County open space trust fund and New Jerseyâ€™s Green Acres grant program to acquire a private estate and preserve it as a historic site.
Subsequently, Ferriero sent a copy of the grant application with a cover letter on his law firmâ€™s letterhead to the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which administers the Green Acres Program. In his letter â€“ while never revealing his connection to GGC or his financial interest in getting grants for Bergenfield â€“ Ferriero stated that it was â€œextremely important to (him) personally that this application receive favorable review by the Department.â€
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 â€œConsulting Grant Fulfillment Fees.â€ 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. All of the checks were signed by Ferriero.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the former editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc.
To subscribe to Kouri’s newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write “Subscription” on the subject line.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.