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Three Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission employees arrested on charges of official misconduct February 1, 2011

Posted by jefhenninger in News.

Three Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission employees were arrested today on charges of official misconduct as part of an ongoing probe into the troubled agency.  Arrested were Anthony Ardis, 56, of Paterson, a former PVSC Commissioner who currently is Clerk to the Board of Commissioners and Director of Management Services at the PVSC; Kevin Keogh, 45, of Roseland, Superintendent for Special Services at the PVSC; and Chester Mazza, 69, of Totowa, Assistant Superintendent for Special Services.

Each was charged with official misconduct.  The defendants will be held at Passaic County Jail, with bail for each set at $75,000.  According to the complaint, each was hit with charges that they directed subordinate employees to complete repairs or improvements at their private homes or the homes of people close to them while the employees were on agency time.

According to the complaint, on several occasions Ardis allegedly sent PVSC employees to his mother’s home to tear down sheet rock in her garage and do other home maintenance work. On another occasion, Ardis sent PVSC workers to his girlfriend’s home to replace two air-conditioning units.  According to the Star Ledger, Ardis serves as the agency’s ethics officer and is a former district director for U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell.

The complaint alleges that Keogh sent workers to his home on several occasions to do deck work, remove old windows and install replacements and cut, finish and install kitchen cabinet doors.  Mazza is alleged to have sent PVSC employees to his home twice, once  to install a roof vent and a second time to repair an outside wall.

Official misconduct carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison.  For each defendant, the conduct is alleged to have  occurred after April 14, 2007, when enhanced penalties for official misconduct took effect. As a result, each defendant would face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without possibility of parole if convicted.  In other words, these crimes have become very serious and the mandatory terms present problems for criminal defense attorneys.  

The agency has been under fire daily over the past two weeks as Gov. Chris Christie ordered the removal of six of seven commissioners last week. Christie was responding to an expose by the Star Ledger that detailed several abuses including hiring of several family members by the sitting commissioners.  All six resigned late last week.  Last year, Christie replaced the agency’s director with former prosecutor Wayne Forrest.  Earlier this week, Forrest cut the salaries of every employee making over $100,000.



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