|Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced today that Paterson Housing and Zoning Inspector Jose Fermin has been criminally charged with allegedly agreeing to accept and accepting money in exchange for issuing fraudulent building permits and other records purportedly legitimately issued by the City of Paterson.
Fermin 50, of Prospect Park, N.J., was charged Wednesday, by complaint-summons with second-degree bribery, second-degree official misconduct, and other offenses. The charges are a result of an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) Corruption Bureau.
The investigation revealed that Fermin, over a period of at least two years, accepted money from an unnamed co-conspirator, identified as “Co-Conspirator #1,” in exchange for supplying Co-Conspirator #1 with fraudulent building permits and other fraudulent records allegedly issued by the City, but that were never actually issued by the City.
The investigation further revealed that Fermin showed Co-Conspirator #1 how to forge the signature of the Paterson director of planning and zoning on one or more records purportedly issued by the City.
“The harm here goes well beyond the back room deals and crooked payoffs,” said Attorney General Platkin. “When the public is placed at risk and loses faith in our government institutions, we all lose. This action sends a strong message that we will aggressively prosecute this type of public corruption.”
“The Office of Public Integrity and Accountability is working hard to deter this type of dishonest conduct and build a culture of integrity in government and public agencies,” said OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher. “This defendant allegedly tried to undermine the inspection system and evade rules designed to keep New Jerseyans safe. Anyone who we discover engaging in this type of conduct will be investigated and prosecuted.”
Fermin’s deliberate actions are in violation of a duty under the Paterson Personnel Policies and Procedures manual to refrain from, among other things, accepting any gifts from any individual who has had or is likely to have any professional or official transactions with the City.
Fermin is charged with the following crimes:
· Bribery (second degree)
· Official Misconduct (second degree)
· Acceptance or Receipt of Unlawful Benefit by Public Servant for Official Behavior (second degree)
· Conspiracy (second degree)
· Forgery (third degree)
· Tampering with Public Records (third degree)
· Falsifying or Tampering with Records (fourth degree)
Deputy Attorneys General Eric Cohen, Samantha Thoma and Caroline Oliveira are prosecuting the case for the OPIA Corruption Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jeffrey Manis, Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000.
These charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
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