NJ construction official accused of siphoning funds from developers’ account

Official allegedly billed developers thousands of dollars for after-hours meetings, despite being paid a stipend to attend them

Tri-State /
Sep.September 24, 2021 04:00 PM

Belleville Town Hall (Google Maps, iStock)

A town hall in Essex County, New Jersey, was the target of a raid by state investigators on Monday, following allegations that a local construction official helped himself to an escrow account containing funds deposited by developers.

Belleville Township Construction Official Frank DeLorenzo Jr. is accused of compensating himself with seemingly arbitrary withdrawals from the account each time he attended a meeting after regular working hours — despite being paid a stipend to attend the meetings.

The town’s mayor, Michael Melham, told NJ.com he discovered the withdrawals — which ranged from $200 to $750 — earlier in the year. DeLorenzo allegedly supplied invoices for eight meetings over six months, totaling $2,350. Because the escrow account contains no taxpayer funds, it isn’t closely monitored by auditors, Melham told the publication.

DeLorenzo has been a township employee since 1981. His $156,000 annual salary is supplemented by a $17,000 stipend to attend after-hours planning board and subcommittee meetings, NJ.com reported, citing public records.

Developers who apply for construction projects in the town deposit money into the escrow account. Melham says a “strange feeling” caused him to check the account and discover the alleged malfeasance.

New Jersey State Police investigators arrived at town hall with a subpoena on Monday. The state attorney general’s office did not confirm or deny the subpoena to NJ.com, and it’s unclear what investigators were searching for, but Melham confirmed it was served.

An attorney for DeLorenzo claimed he has a perfect record and wouldn’t do anything illegal.

“I think everybody should not rush to judgment until all of the facts are heard because it would be manifestly unfair to Mr. DeLorenzo,” the attorney said in a statement to NJ.com. “I think we all need to wait until all the results are in.”

DeLorenzo was served with a notice and told his future employment with the town would be discussed privately. DeLorenzo countered and called for a public hearing, which took place less than a week before the state police arrived at town hall.

DeLorenzo was still on the job as of Wednesday, though Melham is reportedly pushing for his suspension.

[NJ.com] — Holden Walter-Warner





    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    270 W Montauk Hwy, Hampton Bays, NY (Loopnet)
    Legendary Hampton Bays bar up for sale
    Legendary Hampton Bays bar up for sale
    Prologis Chairman and CEO Hamid Moghadam (Getty, Prologis)
    Industrial space “effectively sold out” amid leasing frenzy, Prologis says
    Industrial space “effectively sold out” amid leasing frenzy, Prologis says
    Starwood raises $10B for distressed real estate plays
    Starwood raises $10B for distressed real estate plays
    Starwood raises $10B for distressed real estate plays
    Aulder Capital CEO Jonah Bamberger and 162-164 East 82nd Street (Rosewood Realty Group, Slate Property Group)
    Two Upper East Side apartment buildings head to foreclosure sale
    Two Upper East Side apartment buildings head to foreclosure sale
    Stripes founder Ken Fox and a rendering of 40 10th Avenue (Stripes, Neoscape)
    Private equity firm carves out 14K sf at Aurora’s Solar Carve building
    Private equity firm carves out 14K sf at Aurora’s Solar Carve building
    Resurrection! Work resumes on stalled Clinton Hill residential project
    Resurrection! Work resumes on stalled Clinton Hill residential project
    Resurrection! Work resumes on stalled Clinton Hill residential project
    Little-known buyer nabs NJ multifamily complex for $36M
    Little-known buyer nabs NJ multifamily complex for $36M
    Little-known buyer nabs NJ multifamily complex for $36M
    CRE held up through the pandemic far better than most expected (iStock)
    How commercial real estate survived the pandemic
    How commercial real estate survived the pandemic
    arrow_forward_ios

    The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

    Loading...