PATERSON, NJ - A 56-year-old Paterson man who's the highest paid employee at the troubled Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission was arrested on February 1 and charged with directing subordinates during regular work shifts to do home repairs or improvements at the homes of his mother and girlfriend, according to state authorities.
Anthony Ardis, a former top aide to Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. and currently Clerk to the Board of Commissioners and Director of Management Services at the sewerage commission, was one of three high-level officials at the agency arrested, according to a press release issued by Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor.
Ardis was making more than $220,000 before taking a recent pay cut, according to The Star-Ledger, which has published a series of stories in recent weeks exposing alleged corruption at the agency.
Also arrested at the offices of the sewerage authority were Kevin Keogh, 45, of Roseland, the Superintendent for Special Services at the PVSC, and Chester Mazza, 69, of Totowa, the Assistant Superintendent for Special Services. Each of the three was charged with the second-degree crime of official misconduct. Their bail was set at $75,000.
The Attorney General's press release says that Ardis in two instances about two to three years ago directed two employees to go to the home of his mother in Paterson, while on agency time, to tear down sheet rock in the garage.
"On another occasion, between 2007 and 2008, four or five PVSC employees were allegedly directed to install wood panels and hook up a microwave in the kitchen of the mother while on duty for the PVSC,'' the press release says. "It is further alleged that one to two years ago, two PVSC employees were directed to go to the home of Ardis’ girlfriend during their regular agency work shifts and replace two air conditioning units."
Keogh is accused having commission employees work on his home. Among the allegations are that the employees removed old windows and installed new ones, worked on his deck at Keogh’s home on agency time, installed two cabinet doors in Keogh’s kitchen, and cut and finished doors in a workshop at the sewage treatment plant that were later installed in Keogh’s kitchen. Mazza is accused of having commission employees install a roof vent and repair a wall at his home.
“These defendants allegedly used their supervisory positions at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission to require subordinates to complete home improvements for them while on the job for this public agency,” said Dow. “We have zero tolerance for officials who unlawfully use their public positions for personal gain.”
“We allege that these three defendants illegally exploited skilled employees, vehicles and equipment which the public entrusted to their management,” said Taylor. “We are continuing our investigation into allegations of misuse of public resources at this agency.”
The state’s investigation revealed that the subordinate employees used PVSC vehicles, equipment and tools to travel to the homes and complete the home improvements, the press release said. They were not paid by the defendants for any of the work performed at the private homes.
The PVSC is a state agency responsible for managing and regulating collection and disposal of wastewater generated in a four-county area along the Passaic ValleyRiver Basin, encompassing parts of Bergen, Passaic, Essex and Hudson counties. The charges stem from an ongoing investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The investigation is being conducted and coordinated by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Manis, Sgt. Lisa Shea and Detective Michael Behar.