TRENTON – Derish Wolff turned himself in to police Thursday to face charges of allegedly “playing fast and loose” with millions of taxpayer dollars as the CEO of an overseas consulting firm. State Street Wire has since learned that Wolff also resigned his seat on a higher education board prior to Thursday’s events.
Wolff, 76, was the president and CEO of Louis Berger Group Inc., an international engineering consulting company with offices formerly in Florham Park, from 1982 to 2002. More recently, he served as chairman of its parent company, Berger Group Holdings Inc.
After two former Berger Group employees pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to defraud the government with respect to claims, Wolff now faces a six-count indictment and is free on $1 million bail secured in property.
Federal prosecutors are alleging he played a major role in “a scheme to intentionally overbill the United States in connection with hundreds of millions of dollars in reconstruction contracts over a nearly 20-year period,” in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman Thursday.
Wolff, of Bernardsville and Miami, also sat on the Board of Trustees at N.J. Institute of Technology, according to the school website, and had been appointed by Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009.
A spokesperson for the school told State Street Wire today that prior to Thursday’s events Wolff notified NJIT officials of his resignation.
NJIT Director of Strategic Communications Jean Llewellyn said other than confirming that Wolff has resigned, the school had no comment on the matter.
Wolff is charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the U.S. Agency for International Development and five counts of making false claims in connection with those billings.
Fishman said, “The indictment alleges that during decades at the helm of a company entrusted with the rebuilding of battle-scarred nations Derish Wolff focused on profits over progress. Wolff allegedly used his position to lead others in the scheme, setting targets that could be reached only through fraud. Especially when representing our business practices overseas, there is no excuse for playing fast and loose with the taxpayers’ tab.”
Michael Ward, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Newark Division, said, “According to the indictment, by instructing his company to pad costs involving foreign reconstruction efforts at falsely inflated rates, he attempted to enrich himself at taxpayer expense. At a time when the U.S. government was attempting to build relationships and trust within the Middle East, Wolff sought profits over patriotism, and commercial gain over corporate duty.”