One year ago on October 2, 2013, Aniello (Niel) Palmieri, the Union County Director of the Division of Facilities Management, plead guilty to an information charging conspiracy to commit mail fraud in Federal court.
Palmieri admitted to filing purchase orders for goods which were never received. The vendors then paid Palmieri.
On September 27, 2013 via an email from his iPhone to his boss, Joe Graziano, Palmieri resigned his $109,612 county position. Although Palmieri worked up to almost the day of his guilty plea, Graziano was not held accountable for the lack of oversight. No one who worked with Palmieri was replaced. We are to believe that no one that worked above or below Palmieri knew what he was up to.
Palmieri also had a take home 24-7, use for whatever you’d like, county Ford Explorer along with free gas and insurance. The County Watchers reported that Palmieri was able to use another county truck to move personal belongs from one residence to another.
At one point, Palmieri was allowed to rent a county house for $300 a month. The house featured 3 bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, a fireplace and sat on 1.3 acres in Summit. The county paid roughly $10,000 a year in property taxes on the house and Palmieri paid $3,600 a year to live in it.
Just on the operations end, Palmieri had oversight of dozens of vendors and contracts worth millions of dollars. However, only two county vendors would also plead guilty to the same kick-back scheme: October 2, 2013 Frank Vicendes III of the Viva Group; November 20, 2013 Richard Greer owner of Positive Attitude LLC.
At this writing the sentencing dates are as follows:
Aniello Palmieri December 9, 2014 930AM court room 4D before judge walls (docket 2:13-CR649)
Frank Vicendese December 16, 2014 930 AM court room 4D before judge walls (docket 2:13CR648)
Richard Greer was set for March 11, 2014 but was postponed. No sentencing date as of yet is listed on the docket (docket #13-CR747)
The details on all three cases can be found on this F.B.I. press release.
The Union County Watchdog Association has been checking the court calendar for postponements. It is also making sure the county is following through on their claim “The County will pursue every legal means available” seeking restitution from Palmieri. A recent Open Public Records Act request, outlined below, shows Union County may be seeking restitution from their insurance company. However, no legal action has been taken against Palmieri to date. No funds have been recovered.
Excerpt of Meeting minutes of October 10, 2013:
Chairman Carter asked County Manager Faella to make a statement.
County Manager Faella stated earlier this week, he received news that Neil Palmieri, the former Director of the Division of Facilities Management, pled guilty in a Federal Court to criminal charges pertaining to mail fraud relative to his employment at the County. He said the County is outraged by this former employee’s reprehensible actions which occurred between January, 2006 through September, 2010. The County will pursue every legal means available to it to insure full and complete restitution of all losses resulting from this crime.
1. Please provide any documents produced while the county pursued every legal means available to ensure full and complete restitution of all losses resulting from this crime. This would include but not be limited to civil actions filed, correspondence with law enforcement officials, correspondence with Palmieri and anyone representing him.
2. Receipts/checks/payments and correspondence pertaining to restitution received from Palmieri.
Dear Mrs. Renna,
This email constitutes a formal and complete response to your September 19, 2014 OPRA request concerning Niel Palmieri. The documents responsive to Item 1 are attached …. There is no civil action, correspondence with law enforcement officials, or correspondence with Niel Palmieri and anyone representing him, to provide for your request.
Item 2: receipts/checks/payments and correspondence pertaining to restitution received from Palmieri: no documents to provide.
Documents provided to OPRA request.
Yet back on October 10, 2013 county officials pledged: