DPW supervisors sentenced to five years in state prison for misconduct

NORTH BERGEN – Two former supervisors for the North Bergen Township Department of Public Works (DPW) were sentenced on Nov. 12to five years in state prison without possibility of parole. The two men were convicted at trial in June of official misconduct for assigning municipal employees to work on election campaigns and complete personal chores or projects for them or their boss, Superintendent James Wiley.
Troy Bunero, 49, of North Bergen, and Francis “Frank” Longo, 50, of Ridgefield Park, were convicted by a Hudson County jury on June 30 of second-degree charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct, as well as third-degree charges of theft by unlawful taking and misapplication of government property. In addition, Bunero was convicted of third-degree tampering with public records and fourth-degree falsifying records for submitting false timesheets. Bunero and Longo forfeited their jobs as a result of the verdict and are permanently barred from public employment.
The defendants did not begin serving their prison sentences yet. Superior Court Judge Paul M. DePascale agreed to release them without bail while they appeal their trial convictions.
“Bunero and Longo shamelessly abused their power and the public resources entrusted to them,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “We’re putting government employees on notice that if they engage in this type of self-serving and corrupt conduct, they will be going to prison like these defendants and their boss, James Wiley.”
Wiley, 70, the former superintendent of the North Bergen Department of Public Works, pleaded guilty on Sept. 11, 2012 to conspiracy to commit official misconduct, admitting he directed municipal employees to perform hundreds of hours of work at his home, doing housecleaning, yard work and special projects, all while being paid by the township. He also admitted assigning township employees to work on election campaigns. Wiley is awaiting sentencing. He faces five to 10 years in state prison and must repay the township.
As supervisors for the Department of Public Works (DPW), Bunero and Longo served under Wiley and were responsible for assigning workers for their shifts. Bunero was responsible for timekeeping and supervising street sweepers and trash pickup. Longo was responsible for supervising crews that did road repair and construction work.
“Bunero and Longo insisted they were just little guys obeying Superintendent James Wiley, but they showed their true colors by ordering municipal workers to perform personal chores for them as well,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “They may have answered to Wiley, but they arrogantly exploited their own authority and the fact that many others answered to them.”
Bunero and Longo were convicted of one count of official misconduct related to political campaign work. The state presented testimony and evidence that they worked on election campaigns personally while being paid by the township and also helped assign subordinate employees to work on campaigns. They were convicted in connection with three days when DPW employees engaged in campaign work between January 2006 and February 2012.
They were convicted of a second count of official misconduct for assigning DPW workers to go to Wiley’s home in North Bergen to do household chores or projects while the workers were on duty or being paid overtime by the township. Each man also allegedly made use of on-the-clock DPW workers for their own personal projects, including renovations at Bunero’s home and the repainting of Longo’s pickup truck, which was done in the DPW garage. The two men allegedly performed work themselves on these projects while being paid by the township. In addition, Longo was convicted of a third count of official misconduct for assigning workers to repair the parking lot of a commercial property.
According to the Attorney General, township employees assigned to work election campaigns or at personal residences typically went to the sites using DPW vehicles, and they used tools and equipment belonging to the department. Bunero and Longo were convicted of theft and misapplication of government property for their role in the unlawful use of tools, equipment, vehicles and employee services for the election campaigns and for personal work for Wiley and themselves. In the counts related to tampering with and falsifying records, Bunero was charged with submitting fraudulent timesheets related to his own hours and the hours of subordinate employees to cover up the unlawful work done on campaigns and on personal projects.
Bunero had worked for North Bergen since 1998 and earned an annual salary of approximately $69,000. Longo had worked for North Bergen since 1993 and earned an annual salary of approximately $79,000. Both men were suspended without pay after they were indicted in September 2012.

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group