N.J. DOT engineer, accomplice charged in $325,000 bribery scheme

TRENTON – A suspended senior engineer with the N.J. Department of Transportation and an alleged accomplice have been charged in a scheme to inflate the cost of a repair project by more than $700,000 and pay $325,000 in bribes, according to the Attorney General’s office.

The AG announced this morning that Gaudner B. Metellus, 32, of Philadelphia, Pa., a senior engineer for DOT, and Ernest J. Dubose, 30, of Boston, Mass., have been charged with conspiracy, official misconduct, bribery, attempted theft by deception and false contract payment claims. Each charge is a second-degree offense carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison. Each charge, except the conspiracy count, also carries a mandatory five years of parole ineligibility.

According to Attorney General Paula Dow, Metellus and Dubose allegedly solicited representatives of a company that operates a shortline freight railroad in New Jersey to engage in a scheme to fraudulently inflate the cost of a project to rehabilitate the Eagle Rock Railroad Bridge in Roseland from about $693,000 to $1.4 million  in connection with an application under the State Rail Freight Assistance Grant Program.

The two men allegedly proposed that the company submit false invoices for rehabilitation work that would never be performed, and demanded that it split the state grant funds with them. Metellus was responsible for confirming the need for repair work and inspecting completed work in connection with the grant program, according to the AG’s office.

Officials of the railroad company alerted the Division of Criminal Justice about the alleged plot and cooperated in the state’s investigation. The two men were originally arrested and charged in the scheme on Sept. 23.

“We allege that Metellus was caught with his hand in the till, attempting to steal more than $700,000 from the state grant program that he was entrusted with overseeing, including $325,000 in bribes that he tried to collect with his accomplice,” Dow said in a release. “Fortunately, the rail company that he allegedly tried to enlist in his corrupt scheme blew the whistle on him.”

Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor said, “This ranks as one of the largest bribery indictments in state history, in terms of the money involved.”

N.J. DOT engineer, accomplice charged in $325,000 bribery scheme