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Former Birdsall Exec Confesses to Pay to Play Law Violations

The former executive of a major Monmouth County-based engineering consulting firm pleads guilty in State Superior Court in Ocean County Friday to a scheme to avoid the State’s Pay-to-Play rules. 40-year-old Philip Angarone, of Hamilton, the former Director of Marketing for Birdsall Services Group, confessed to an accusation charging him with third-degree tampering with public records and fourth-degree prohibited corporation contributions through employees.

Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Angarone be sentenced to up to 364 days in the county jail and forfeit $26,775 dollars that was reimbursed to him by Birdsall Services Group for illegal contributions, as well as any contributions that are subsequently returned to him by campaigns or political organizations. He will also be barred from public contracts for five years.

Angarone admitted that beginning in 2008, he participated in a scheme to disguise illegal corporate political contributions through company employees. Angarone said he and other shareholders and employees of the firm would make personal political contributions of $300 or less, which are deemed unreportable. Those multiple personal checks would then be bundled and sent to a campaign or political organization. The shareholders and employees would then be illegally reimbursed by Birdsall in the form of added bonus payments and the firm would falsely omit the illegally reimbursed contributions in documents filed with the Election Law Enforcement Commission and with government agencies that awarded them contracts.

Birdsall is a major consulting firm for many New Jersey towns and making corporate political contributions would have disqualified them from millions of dollars in public contracts. State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa says New Jersey’s Pay-to Play law is meant to stop companies from using political contributions to improperly influence the award of such contracts. He says “our investigation into alleged illegal corporate political contributions on behalf of Birdsall Services Group is continuing.

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