YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Two supervisors for the North Bergen Township Department of Public Works were indicted today for assigning municipal employees to work on election campaigns and personal chores that included projects for their boss, Superintendent James Wiley — all on township time while using DPW trucks and department equipment.
Troy Bunero, 46, of North Bergen and Francis “Frank” Longo, 47, of Ridgefield Park are each charged in an eight-count indictment handed up today, alleging conspiracy, official misconduct, theft and other offenses, as part of a continuing investigation into corruption in North Bergen.
“Information from local residents and workers who are tired of the corruption has been crucial to the progress of our ongoing investigation,” said Stephen J. Taylor, director of the state Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge anyone with information about misconduct by public officials anywhere in New Jersey to contact us confidentially so that we can take action.”
Wiley pleaded guilty Sept. 11 to conspiracy to commit official misconduct, admitting that he directed municipal employees to perform hundreds of hours of work at his home, including housecleaning, yard work and special projects, all while being paid by the township.
He also admitted assigning township employees — including Bunero and Longo — to work on election campaigns.
Both men were removed from their jobs, with pay, following Wiley’s plea in Superior Court in Jersey City.
“We allege that these defendants, like Wiley, were part of a corrupt operation in which public works employees were regularly deployed for political work or to serve as personal handymen for their bosses, all while being paid by the township,” said Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa. “We’re working to root out this type of abuse of power and taxpayer funds in North Bergen and throughout New Jersey.”
As supervisors for the Department of Public Works (DPW), Bunero and Longo served under Wiley and were responsible for assigning workers for their shifts. Bunero was responsible for timekeeping and supervising street sweepers and trash pickup. Longo was responsible for supervising crews that did road repair and construction work.
The indictment alleges that Bunero and Longo worked on election campaigns personally while being paid by the township, and also, in their roles as supervisors, helped assign subordinate employees to work on election campaigns.
Wiley admitted signing and submitting fraudulent paperwork to have DPW workers paid for overtime labor that they provided on:
(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.
Activities included neighborhoods, distributing campaign literature, and posting campaign signs, etc., the indictment says.
Bunero and Longo also assigned DPW workers to go to Wiley’s Heindel home “to do household chores or projects while the workers were on duty or being paid overtime by the township,” it alleges.
The indictment says they also “made use of on-the-clock DPW workers for their own personal projects, including renovations completed at Bunero’s home and the repainting of a pickup truck owned by Longo, which was done in the DPW garage.”
The two men also participated in the work while on the township clock from January 2006 to February 2012, authorities said.
The employees went to sites in DPW vehicles and used department equipment.
Bunero is charged with submitting fraudulent timesheets for his own hours and those of subordinate employees to cover up the unlawful work done on campaigns and on personal chores or projects.
Bunero has worked for North Bergen since 1998 and currently earns an annual salary of approximately $69,000. Longo has worked for North Bergen since 1993 and currently earns an annual salary of approximately $79,000.