A Jersey City fire inspector admitted today to accepting bribes to provide prostitution businesses with certificates of occupancy and advance notice of inspections or law enforcement activity, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Phillip Procaccino, 56, of Belleville, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of attempting to obstruct, delay and affect interstate commerce by extortion under color of official right.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Procaccino admitted that on Oct. 23, 2013, he accepted $2,500 in exchange for his official assistance in obtaining a certificate of occupancy for a massage parlor, which also operated as a prostitution business. Procaccino also offered to provide notice of impending inspections from Jersey City authorities so the owner and employees could preemptively hide evidence of prostitution.
In addition, Procaccino agreed to take 10 percent of a separate prostitution business’ future profits in exchange for a certificate of occupancy and one day’s advance notice of any police activity targeting the business. Both prostitution businesses were located in Jersey City.
The extortion count to which Procaccino pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb 23, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI’s Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; and criminal investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, for their work leading to today’s plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vikas Khanna and Amy Luria of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.