A former accountant for the City of Bayonne was sentenced to 21 months in prison today for accepting bribes in return for funneling hundreds of thousands in federal grant money to a local contractor.
Anselmo "Rocky" Crisonino, 56, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $439,000 in restitution, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.
Crisonino's sentencing comes three years after he appeared in Trenton federal court in February 2014 and pleaded guilty to one count of accepting approximately $65,000 in bribe payments and one count of theft and conversion of federal funds. He also pleaded guilty to one count of conducting an illegal gambling business and one count of submitting a false tax return for the 2011 tax year.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Crisonino worked for the Bayonne Department of Community Development (CBDCD), an agency that received federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Under a federal program, the CBDCD provided grants of up to $20,000 to low-income families to rehabilitate their homes and to repair conditions affecting health and safety. Crisonino, who was responsible for reviewing applications and awarding the funds to qualified applicants, solicited cash bribe payments from Joseph Arrigo, the owner of a contracting company in Bayonne, Fishman said.
From September 2010 to February 2013, Crisonino received cash payments from Arrigo in exchange for his assistance in awarding HUD grant funds from the CBDCD that totaled approximately $426,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
In October 2013, Arrigo pleaded guilty to bribing Crisonino.
During that same time period, Crisonino also awarded HUD grant funds to several contractors and plumbers despite knowing that their bids for projects were fraudulent. He additionally approved change orders on projects where little to no legitimate work had been done by the contractors and plumbers at the job sites.
The approved change orders allowed the CBDCD to disperse additional HUD grant funds to the projects that had already reached the maximum $20,000 grant allotment, Fishman's office said.
Crisonino also admitted to conducting an illegal gambling business in North Jersey that ran online, and pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return for 2011.
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