Updated at 11:18 a.m.
ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Prosecutor's Office, as detailed in a news release issued by the City of Summit, has charged former City of Summit Department of Community Programs assistant director James Colucci, Jr. with two counts of theft by deception in the third degree and one count of impersonation / theft of identity in the third degree.
On February 21, 2019, following an investigation of financial irregularities related to the Cornog Fieldhouse renovation project by the Summit Police Department, Colucci was put on unpaid administrative leave. He subsequently resigned from the City of Summit on March 4, 2019.
According to the Union County Prosecutor's Office, a joint investigation by the Special Prosecutions Unit of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Summit Police Department revealed that on various dates from December 2017 into February 2019, Colucci allegedly submitted multiple fraudulent invoices to the City of Summit, using the names of two nonexistent companies, according to Unit Supervisor and Assistant Prosecutor Melissa Spagnoli, who is prosecuting the case. During various dates in that same time, Colucci also allegedly assumed a false identity to file fraudulent paperwork with the City.
Colucci allegedly pocketed more than $74,000 by orchestrating the scheme.
Colucci’s attorney was served the charges via summons on Thursday, with a first appearance in Union County Superior Court being scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Friday, January 24.
Convictions on third-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by prison terms of 3 to 5 years in state prison.
Colucci, 50,i began work as a program supervisor in the Department of Community Programs on August 11, 2016. He was promoted to assistant director on July 1, 2018.
“We are thankful to the Summit Police Department and Union County Prosecutors Office for its diligence in pursuing the criminal investigation,” said Summit Mayor Nora Radest.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.