A former employee at the Jersey City tax assessor’s office admitted accepting a cash bribe in exchange for changing the tax description for a Jersey City property, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Bennie Anderson, 60, of Jersey City, today pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty 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:
Jersey City tax descriptions reference how many units a particular property can have. Owners who wanted to change a property’s tax description would have to seek approval from the Jersey City zoning board. The tax assessor’s office would change the tax description only if the zoning board approved a zoning variance.
Anderson, by virtue of his position, had the ability to improperly change the tax description without going through the required process. In December 2012, Anderson changed the tax description of a particular property from two to three units in exchange for a cash bribe from the owner.
The extortion count to which Anderson pleaded guilty is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for March 5, 2018.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy A. Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.