Birdsall Services Group, the Eatontown engineering fire at the center of a broadening probe of illegal political contributions in New Jersey, today admitted pumping more than a half-million dollars through low-level employees to gain contracts worth many millions more.

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According to information from state First Assistant Attorney Thomas Calcagni, defense lawyer Joseph Hayden in a Trenton courtroom submitted guilty pleas to first-degree money laundering and second-degree false representations for government contracts.

The company is required to pay $1,000,000 in fines, penalties and restitution, over and above $2,600,000 it agreed to forfeit in a previous civil action filed by the Attorney General's office. Birdsall Services is alsos banned from government contracts in the Garden State for 10 years and required to cooperate with investigators as the probe continues.

The forfeiture agreement prompted the company to file for bankruptcy in May. Earlier this month, a judge approved the sale of the company's assets to a California concern for $5,600,000. The state's payments will be taken from that sum and from assets designated in the settlement.

Calcagni calls it a victory for everyone who believes in transparency for government contracts and dismantling of privilege through political connection.

"With this plea, Birdsall Services Group has admitted that it made more than half a million dollars in illegal corporate political contributions and lied about them to secure public contracts for which it should have been disqualified," he said in a prepared statement.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 30. Seven executives are charged with first-degree conspiracy and money laundering, with prison sentences possibly running as high as 10 to 20 years plus millions in penalties.

Former Birdsall marketing director Philip Angarone of Hamilton and marketing department employee Eileen Kufahl of Bradley Beach previously pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Birdsall executives were accused of funnelling money into campaigns and political groups that would have disqualified it from public contracts over a six-year span.

Investigators say the submitted sums of $300 or less through numerous employees and shareholders. Investigators say they were illegally reimbursed by the company through bonus payments which were omitted from filings with the Election Law Enforcement Commission and with government agencies that gave them contracts.