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Contractor Admits Rigging Bids and Inflating School Contracts in Union County

Engineer for school districts and two other contractors previously pleaded guilty.

Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a contractor pleaded guilty today to rigging bids and inflating school contracts at the direction of an engineer who oversaw construction projects for Westfield and Tinton Falls school districts.

John Sangiuliano, 57, of Scotch Plains, co-owner of Metropolitan Metal Window Company, pleaded guilty today to an accusation charging him with third-degree making false representations for a government contract before Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue in Union County. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to a term of probation, conditioned upon him paying $36,000 in restitution to the Westfield and Tinton Falls districts and a $25,000 penalty to the state’s Anti-Trust Revolving Fund for anti-trust enforcement efforts.  Sangiuliano and his company will be disqualified from public contracts in New Jersey for five years.  Deputy Attorney General Vincent J. Militello took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Sangiuliano is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 7.

In pleading guilty, Sangiuliano admitted that he falsified bids for contracts in the Westfield and Tinton Falls school districts at the behest of the engineer who oversaw construction projects in those districts, Kenneth Disko, and paid him approximately $36,000 in kickbacks.

Disko, 48, of Mountainside, the former contracted engineer or engineer/architect on record for the Westfield, Tinton Falls and Scotch Plains-Fanwood school districts, pleaded guilty on Oct. 12 to second-degree making false representations for a government contract.  He was sentenced on March 16 to three years in state prison. Disko admitted that he orchestrated a series of bid-rigging and kickback schemes from 2001 to 2010 in those three districts involving Sangiuliano and two other contractors, Martin W. Starr, 45, of Cliffwood Beach , owner of Starr Contracting, and Stephen M. Gallagher, 51, of Cliffwood Beach, owner of East Commercial Construction.

Starr and Gallagher pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2011 , to third-degree making false representations for a government contract.  Under their plea agreements, the state will recommend that each man be sentenced to up to 364 days in the county jail and a term of probation.  Their companies also pleaded guilty. The individual and corporate defendants will be disqualified from public contracts for five years, and will be jointly and severally liable for paying a $50,000 penalty to the Anti-Trust Revolving Fund. Starr and Gallagher are scheduled to be sentenced on July 20.

The investigation was led by Deputy Attorney General Militello, Sgt. Lisa Shea and Detective Michael Behar of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

The investigation revealed that Sangiuliano, in bidding on contracts for the Westfield and Tinton Falls school districts, knowingly prepared fraudulent quotes at Disko’s direction bearing the names of other legitimate contractors, making the quotes higher than his own.  He also knowingly inflated Metropolitan’s quotes and the cost of repairs for the contracts at Disko’s direction.  In exchange for the inflated contracts, Sangiuliano allegedly gave kickbacks to Disko of at least $36,000 in 2009 and 2010.  The investigation revealed that Disko also received over $44,000 in kickbacks from a prior owner of Metropolitan who is now deceased for contracts awarded from 2001 to 2004.

In a related matter stemming from the investigation, the former business administrator for the Westfield School District, Robert A. Berman, 55, of South Plainfield, pleaded guilty to third-degree conspiracy to make false representations for a government contract.  He admitted that he accepted $13,000 in windows and doors from Sangiuliano, who he recommended be hired by the school district.  Berman was sentenced on Jan. 27 to one year of probation and was ordered to pay a $6,000 penalty. He forfeited his position with the school district and is permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.

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