An owner of a plumbing and heating company in Bayonne admitted today to colluding with other contractors to secure projects funded by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants, according to an announcement by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.
John Youngclaus, 43, of Bayonne, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with theft of $224,250 in government funds. According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Youngclaus, who owned JRY Plumbing and Heating (JRY), solicited, received and submitted bids from competing contractors to the City of Bayonne Department of Community Development for grant-funded jobs.
On at least one occasion, Youngclaus received blank invoices from a competing contractor and Youngclaus wrote the job details and price quote on the blank invoice and submitted the fraudulent bid along with a lower bid from JRY to the CBDCD for a certain grant-funded job to obtain the grant project. The information also describes at least two instances when Youngclaus submitted fraudulent bids from competing contractors for properties that he owned in Bayonne. Although the jobs were awarded to the competing contractor with the lowest bid, JRY plumbing performed the work on the properties owned by Youngclaus and received the payment for the work.
The City of Bayonne Department of Community Development (CBDCD) was a government agency that received funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under a federal program that provided grants up to $20,000 to low-income families to rehabilitate their homes and to repair conditions affecting health and safety, accessibility, energy efficiency or code compliance. The CBDCD selected contractors for the HUD-funded rehabilitation grants through a competitive bidding process that required the submission of bids from competing contractors with estimated price quotes.
As a result of Youngclaus colluding with other contractors, JRY wrongfully obtained $224,250 in HUD funds from the CBDCD during 2012. The theft of government funds charge to which Youngclaus pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and maximum fines of $250,000. Sentencing is currently scheduled for June 22, 2015.