Former Bayonne Official Sentenced To 21 Months Prison For Accepting $65,000 In Bribes For Awarding HUD Grant Funds

TRENTON, N.J. – (RealEstateRama) — A Hudson County, New Jersey, man, who served as the senior accountant of the City of Bayonne Department of Community Development (CBDCD) was sentenced today to 21 months in prison for accepting $65,000 in bribe payments in exchange for his assistance in awarding projects funded by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Anselmo Crisonino, 56, of Bayonne, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to a four-count information charging him with one count of accepting bribe payments totaling approximately $65,000 from Joseph Arrigo, the owner of a contracting company in Bayonne. Crisonino also pleaded guilty to one count of theft and conversion of federal funds ($422,360), one count of conducting an illegal gambling business, and one count of submitting a false tax return for tax year 2011.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

The CBDCD was an agency that received funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under a federal program that provided grants up to $20,000 to low income families to rehabilitate their homes and to repair conditions affecting health and safety, accessibility, energy efficiency or code compliance. The CBDCD also provided these HUD funds under the same federal program to nonprofit organizations. Crisonino was responsible for reviewing applications and awarding such funds to qualified applicants.

In September 2010, Crisonino solicited cash bribe payments from Arrigo in exchange for Crisonino’s assistance in awarding HUD grant funds from the CBDCD to Arrigo as the owner of Shadow Contracting LLC. From September 2010 to February 2013, Crisonino received cash payments from Arrigo totaling approximately $65,000 in exchange for Crisonino’s assistance in awarding HUD grant funds from the CBDCD to Arrigo that totaled approximately $426,000.

Between September 2010 and February 2013, Crisonino awarded HUD grant funds to several contractors and plumbers in Bayonne through the CBDCD, despite the fact that Crisonino knew that the submitted bids for the projects were fraudulent and were the result of collusion by the contractors and plumbers. Crisonino also approved change orders on projects where little to no legitimate work had been done by the contractors and plumbers at the job sites. The approved change orders allowed the CBDCD to disperse additional HUD grant funds to the projects that had already reached the maximum $20,000 grant allotment.

Crisonino also pleaded guilty to conducting an illegal gambling business in northern New Jersey. The illegal gambling business was administered and managed through a website that Crisonino and others accessed through usernames and passwords.

He admitted making and subscribing a U.S. Individual Tax Return, Form 1040, for tax year 2011 filed with the IRS, which he did not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter, including approximately $65,000 in unreported income through the bribe payments.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Sheridan sentenced Crisonino to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $439,000.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark: special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacques S. Pierre of the Special Prosecutions Division.

Defense counsel: Daniel J. Welsh Esq., Jersey City, N.J.

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