EAST HANOVER, NJ- Juan Romaniello of East Hanover pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and filing a false tax return.
Romaniello, 54, served with the Jersey City Police Department as a police officer from 1988 to 2014. Towards the tail end of his career, Romaniello served as the "pick coordinator" from 2002 to 2014 for Jersey City's North District. This position consisted of assigning police officers to off-duty details throughout the district.
In their press release, the United States Attorney District of New Jersey said, “Under Jersey City’s Municipal Code, police officers could perform off-duty assignments only when the police officer was not on duty. The code mandated that Jersey City control the hiring and compensation process through which employers hired off-duty police officers.”
The reason the system is set up this way is that police officers cannot accept cash payments or checks that would pay them directly. Instead, the employers must pay Jersey City who in turn compensates the off-duty officer after withholding fees, taxes and deductions including an administrative fee to the city.
Romaniello went behind the city’s back and struck deals with multiple employers to cut Jersey City out of the process. He circumvented several laws and permitted employers to operate worksites without the presence of a police officer, when one is specifically required by law, or would provide the police presence without notifying the city.
The United States Attorney District of New Jersey went on to say in their press release that, “Romaniello collected payments in cash, money orders and checks payable to him, directly from the employers, depriving Jersey City of money that it would have received otherwise and avoiding reporting requirements to Jersey City and the IRS.”
The count of conspiracy to commit fraud comes with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and the count of tax fraud carries a maximum of 3 years. Both counts also charge a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain from the offense, whichever is greater.
The United States Attorney District of New Jersey goes on to reveal the terms of Romaniello’s plea agreement stating, “Under terms of the plea agreement, Romaniello will forfeit approximately $297,000, a substantial part of which were monies that he obtained through this corrupt and fraudulent activity and which he kept at his residence. In addition, for tax years 2009 to 2013, Romaniello did not report to the IRS $201,340 of ill-gotten gains. The plea agreement requires him to pay the IRS approximately $90,000 in restitution for unpaid taxes.”