Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor today announced the indictments of three former administrators and a former shop foreman at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) with directing subordinate employees to complete repairs or improvements at the private homes of the administrators or people close to them while the subordinates were on duty.
The men indicted are Anthony Ardis, 57, of Paterson, a former PVSC Commissioner who later served as Clerk to the Board of Commissioners, Director of Management Services and Chief Ethics Liaison Officer for the PVSC; Kevin Keogh, 45, of Roseland, former Superintendent for Special Services at the PVSC; and Chester Mazza, 70, of Totowa, former Assistant Superintendent for Special Services.
The indictments charging Ardis and Keogh also name Paul Bazela, 44, of Northvale, the former foreman of the PVSC carpenter’s shop. It is alleged that, at the direction of Ardis and Keogh, Bazela ordered carpenters and other skilled workers he supervised to go to the homes of Keogh and Ardis’ mother and girlfriend while on agency time to complete repairs and improvements using agency vehicles, tools and equipment. Bazela also allegedly accompanied the workers in some instances to supervise and assist with the projects. Bazela, who is the mayor of Northvale, was shop foreman from April 2006 to May 2010, when he was promoted to a higher level of operations supervisor. None of the three administrators paid for the work performed for them.
“We allege that Ardis, Keogh and Mazza used their power and influence as senior administrators at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission to exploit subordinates as free labor for their personal projects, and that Bazela assisted in this conduct by using his direct authority over these skilled workers,” said Dow. “We are determined to root out this type of abuse of public office.”
“By allegedly taking PVSC employees away during their regular shifts to serve as their personal handymen, these defendants stole from the public,” said Taylor. “They are also charged with theft for treating agency vehicles, tools and equipment like their own property.”
Ardis, Keogh and Mazza are each charged with conspiracy (2nd degree), official misconduct (2nd degree), pattern of official misconduct (2nd degree) and theft by unlawful taking or disposition (3rd degree). Bazela faces two counts of each of those charges, because he is named in those counts in both the Ardis and Keogh indictments. Keogh is charged by himself with additional counts of official misconduct (2nd degree), pattern of official misconduct (2nd degree) and theft by unlawful taking (3rd degree) for alleged instances in which he personally directed subordinate employees to perform personal errands or repairs for him without arranging it through Bazela.
The second-degree offenses carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison. For each defendant, conduct is alleged that 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 based on that alleged conduct. The second-degree offenses also carry a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.