Turner wants contractors guilty of fraud barred from public work

TRENTON – Public contractors convicted of certain fraud crimes could be permanently disqualified from future bidding opportunities if legislation sponsored by a state senator is adopted and signed into law.

Sen. Shirley Turner, (D-15), Trenton, announced Tuesday a bill, S2167, that would permanently prohibit government contracting for any person convicted of certain crimes involving government contracts. The legislation was sponsored in response of the sentencing of two South Jersey contractors who pleaded guilty to making false representations in order to win a government contract, according to the senator’s office.

“”Doing business with government is a trust, and public bidders that defraud New Jersey’s taxpayers should not be entitled to the opportunity of doing business with our school districts, local, county, and state governments in the future,” Turner said in a statement.

Martin Starr and Stephen Gallagher, both of Cliffwood Beach, were involved with a bid-rigging scheme that allowed them to be awarded public contracts based on fraudulent and fictitious quotes, Turner said, citing the state’s Attorney General. Both men were sentenced to three years probation and are also disqualified from public contracts for five years.

“Five years’ disqualification is not enough for violating the public trust; these contractors are not welcome business partners now, in five years, or any time in the future,” Turner said. “Taxpayers deserve the peace of mind that government will only conduct business with honest, trustworthy companies.”