Meter made? State police look into missing parking $$$
by Timothy J. Carroll Reporter staff writer
Jul 23, 2008 | 3205 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City Attorney Steven Kleinman confirmed on Thursday that the state police are looking into possibly missing money from the Hoboken Parking Utility's collections from parking meters.

The city may file litigation against the coin collection company, United Textile Fabricators, a Toms River-based company that allegedly misplaced as much as $582,352 last October that they counted for the city. The money was returned in installments beginning in November 2007, but without interest.

The owner of United Textile Fabricators is Brian Petaccio, former co-owner of Grayhound Electronics, who was indicted to state Grand Jury racketeering charges on March 7, 1991.
According to Kleinman, the company has since surrendered the funds to the city, but without interest. He said that the city has stopped using the company and is with holding payments until the matter is settled.

"The administration is looking at all aspects of United Textile Fabricators," Kleinman said Thursday.

HPU Parking Director John Corea had previously said at the Dec. 6 council meeting that his agency's most recent internal audit only showed $34.61 missing.

Follow the cash
At a City Council meeting on Feb. 6, both 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason and 5th Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham questioned the parking revenue reports in a city audit conducted by an external firm, Garbarini and Co. There had been talk among city officials of missing money and conflicting numbers for more than six months.

Cunningham said at the meeting, "Clearly this audit indicates that we've got money going out the back door." At that meeting, Cunningham also stressed the need for a forensic audit of city finances overall.

Dollar-a-year mayoral advisors Richard Tremetiedi and Maurice "Mo" DeGenarro were critical at the February meeting. Tremtiedi warned, "Like the police say, 'Follow the cash.' "

Roberts said last week in an interview that once he received a memo from the finance department on the missing funds in October, he took it to the prosecutor's office first thing the next day.

Coin operated
The administration hired United Textile Fabricators in December of 2005 on the recommendation of Corea, and the company was vetted by Roberts' then-city attorney Joseph Sherman. The City Council also approved the company in a no-bid process, using a resolution that Kleinman later called "odd" in its design.

United Textile Fabricators is primarily a crane machine sales company, but they also handle Hoboken's parking meter collection, making the over-70 mile trip to Toms River.

In November of 1990, the state Attorney General's office "filed a major civil forfeiture action seeking to take title to Grayhound Electronics, Inc. of Toms River, a manufacturer of amusement games," according to a report on illegal gambling machines made available on the New Jersey state website.

"The complaint alleges that the firm was 'created by and is controlled by associates of' the LaCosa Nostra family of Nicodemo Scarfo and their designees," the report states.

Another account in the report describes the connection between the business owners and the crime family.

It states that George Fresolone, "a 'made' member of the Bruno/Scarfo crime family ... had been assigned by Nicodemo Scarfo, Sr. (now incarcerated head of the Bruno/Scarfo crime family) to collect tribute from Carmen Ricci and Brian Petaccio, the owners of Grayhound Electronics."

"Ricci and Petaccio not only manufactured the [illegal gambling] devices, they distributed them in South Jersey and Philadelphia through a company called B & C Enterprises," the report said.

The same report mentions Hoboken, as broached by John Januska, who like Fresolone was a key witness in racketeering cases.

Januska said when questioned about the operation, "Well, let's put it this way. You see, between Passaic County and Hudson County, that's a little bit of Hoboken, Jersey City, I did 290,000 [dollars] in the numbers business. I kept three per cent on the side for the politicians and the cops."
________

"Clearly this audit indicates that we've got money going out the back door."
- Peter Cunningham

________


Checkered past
Corea was given the job of parking director in 2004 over former Hoboken Parking Authority Executive Director JoAnn Serrano, who sued the Roberts administration for discrimination and was awarded $400,000. (The city is appealing the case.)

Roberts hired Corea, a failed City Council candidate, during a City Council-imposed hiring freeze in January 2004 even though Corea did not apply for a job in a national search that brought in roughly 25 resumes.

Corea was originally given the title of "monitor" because calling him a "director" would have required the approval of the City Council.

Roberts hired Corea for $24,500, just under the Council's hiring freeze cap of $25,000, and later gave him a large pay increase.

Carol Marsh, a council member at the time, put forth a resolution to rescind the hire, but city attorney Joseph Sherman deemed it "inappropriate" and said the council was "stepping on the feet" of the administration.

Corea had no previous experience in parking management, and was a member of the New York Stock Exchange before being found guilty of improper trading and subsequently banned for life from trading on the exchange.

For questions or comments on this story, e-mail tcarroll@hudsonreporter.com.
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