Ex-head of Hoboken Parking Utility admits guilt in $600G theft of meter funds, Toms River contractor previously pleaded guilty to theft

Ex-head of Hoboken Parking Utility admits guilt in $600G theft of meter funds, Toms River contractor previously pleaded guilty to theft

December 19, 2011 - Asbury Park Press

TOMS RIVER — The former head of the Hoboken Parking Utility is facing eight years in prison after appearing in Superior Court on Friday to admit his role in the theft of $600,000 from that city’s parking meters.

John P. Corea pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson Jr. to official misconduct, a second-degree crime carrying a potential prison term of 10 years.

In entering his guilty plea, Corea, 45, a Hoboken resident, admitted steering three no-bid contracts to United Textile Fabricators, an arcade game manufacturer headed by a Toms River man, to collect and count coins from Hoboken’s parking meters.

Corea told the judge he made false statements to the Hoboken City Council about the company’s qualifications, and that he came to believe that the head of the company, Brian A. Petaccio, 51, of Toms River, had stolen a substantial amount of the city’s parking revenues.

Nevertheless, Corea said he took no steps to stop the thefts or notify the city.  Petaccio pleaded guilty to the theft in 2009, admitting he stole more than $1.1 million in coins from Hoboken’s parking meters between June 2005 and April 2008. He and his company returned about $575,000 to the city after an audit in 2007 uncovered a shortfall, but Petaccio also admitted diverting $600,000 in revenue that was not reported to the city.

In making the admission to Hodgson, Petaccio said he split more than half the proceeds from the theft with an unnamed municipal official. Corea later that year was accused in an indictment of being that unnamed municipal official.

“This defendant corruptly exploited his public office, at a high cost to the City of Hoboken,” state Attorney General Paula T. Dow said of Corea in a news release. “We are seeking a lengthy prison sentence for this flagrant betrayal of trust.”

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey J. Manis of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau will recommend that Corea receive an eight-year prison term and be required to serve three years in prison before he can be considered for release on parole.  Manis also will ask that Corea be made to pay $300,000 in restitution to the city of Hoboken and be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.

Under his plea agreement, Petaccio is facing seven years in prison and a requirement that he pay $300,000 in restitution to Hoboken.

Both Corea and Petaccio are scheduled to be sentenced by Hodgson in February.

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