Ex-Birdsall Executive Indicted in Growing Corruption Probe
The former executive vice-president of Middletown-based Birdsall Services Group engineering firm risks five to 10 years in prison on conviction for each of four second-degree charges stemming from a probe of alleged violations of New Jersey's pay to play laws.
Thomas Rospos, 60, of Belmar is accused of spreading more than $150,000 in illicit contributions to Republican and Democratic political campaigns statewide between 2008 and 2012. He was indicted by a state grand jury today in Trenton on charges of conspiracy, making false representations for government contracts, corporate misconduct and money laundering.
He's also facing third- and fourth-degree counts of tampering with public records or information, falisifying or tampering with records, prohibited corporate contributions through employees and concealment or misrepresentation of contributions or expenditures.
Investigators implicate Rospos in what they say was a scheme to award bonuses to employees as reimbursement for political campaign contributions. The amounts, they believe, stayed within $300, the limit for donations deemed unreportable.
"By engaging in this scheme, we allege that they unlawfully bolstered their political connections while continuing to receive public contracts for which they should have been disqualified," said New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa.
Rospos becomes the engineering giant's second operative identified in an ongoing probe. Former marketing director Philip Angarone of Hamilton pleaded guilty to records-tampering and prohibited corporate contributions through employees.
Angarone testified that Birdsall avoided corporate political contributions that would disqualify it from public contracts by funneling the money through employees and shareholders in small amounts. He told prosecutors that multiple personal checks would be assembled and sent from Birdsall's headquarters to various campaigns, after which the company would remit bonuses to them. He admitted omitting the reimbursements in documents filed with the Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Prosecutors say Angarone is likely to be sentenced to 364 days behind bars and probation. Personal contributions above $300 are reportable to ELEC. Profit-driven companies in New Jersey that receives $50,000 or more in government contracts in a calendar year is required to report them to ELEC, along with its political contributions.
"We're continuing our investigation into illegal corporate political contributions made on behalf of Birdsall Services Group," said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice, in a prepared statement. "Each of these actions we have taken, including this indictment and the recent guilty plea, serve to move our case forward substantially."
The state Attorney General's office takes reports of suspected wrongdoing on the web at http://www.njdcj.org. The toll-free tip line is 1-866-TIPS-4CJ.