The arrival of Steve Fulop was a welcome sign to New Jersey developers and construction companies.
The Jersey City mayor has overseen the reinvention of the city’s once dilapidated business district, which has given way to skyscrapers.
But as the city has risen, an associate of the mayor responsible for expediting building and construction permits is now at the center of a federal tax evasion investigation, Bloomberg reports.
Tom Bertoli could now face criminal charges as part of a grand jury inquiry after prosecutors learned he had not filed tax returns on payments exceeding millions of dollars over the past decade. Bertoli is known as a conduit between many developers and Fulop, and has helped expedite building permits.
As part of the probe, multiple potential conflicts of interest for Fulop have arisen, including campaign donations, personal home loans for a planned beach house in Narragansett, Rhode Island, and tax assessments.
“The mayor’s only consideration is what is best for Jersey City’s residents and taxpayers based on market and economic conditions,” a spokesperson for Fulop’s office said in a statement to Bloomberg.
One developer that has worked with Bertoli is the Charles Kushner-led Kushner Companies, which used him for its Trump Bay Street project. The New York-based company also gave tens of thousands of dollars to Fulop’s exploratory campaign for governor as it sought permits for another development, the outlet reported.
Other developers who have hired Bertoli and donated to Fulop’s campaigns include Mack-Cali Realty, Ironstate Development and Dixon Advisory Services. [Bloomberg] — David Jeans