HOBOKEN -- The New Jersey attorney general’s office announced Friday afternoon the indictment of the former head of the Hoboken Parking Utility, John Corea.
State Attorney General Anne Milgram's office said Corea was indicted on charges that he conspired to allegedly split $600,000 with a Toms River contractor who collected coins from city parking meters.
Corea, 45, faces charges of conspiracy, money laundering, official misconduct, theft by unlawful taking, and misapplication of government property.
Corea was hired for the position five years ago by former Mayor David Roberts, even though Corea had a questionable record. When Corea was a member of the New York Stock Exchange in the 1990s, he was censured and permanently barred from trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Critics of Roberts’ protested the hiring of Corea, a former City Council candidate who had supported one of Roberts’ candidates.
Additionally, at the time, the city had a hiring freeze on jobs that pay more than $25,000, so the Roberts administration hired him for $24,500 and then gave him raises later.
Corea was also hired in place of the Parking Authority’s longtime director, who was demoted. She eventually sued the city and won a $400,000 settlement. Thus, the hiring was even more costly.
Corea worked for the city until this past September, when he resigned after the new administration of Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer slashed his salary and demoted him. He was earning $114,000 when he left.
The contractor with whom the city’s Parking Utility did business, Brian A. Petaccio, 49, of Toms River, is the owner and president of United Textile Fabricators LLC of Toms River. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 30 to an accusation charging him with allegedly stealing more than $1.1 million in coins from Hoboken’s parking meters, according to the state attorney general’s office.
Apparently, that's when Petaccio told the investigators more about what was going on.
The state alleges that Corea steered three separate no-bid contracts to United Textile Fabricators in November 2005 to collect and count the coins.
The first clue about the missing money was when the city’s 2007 audit uncovered approximately $575,000 missing. Petaccio’s company returned the money, but – according to the state – he and a Hoboken official allegedly had split an additional $600,000 sum that was never reported to the city.
When Petaccio pleaded guilty in September, he apparently told the investigators that he had “conspired with an official of the City of Hoboken, whom he did not name in court but had previously identified to investigators.”
Investigators believe the man is Corea.
The release states, “The two men allegedly worked out a scheme in which Petaccio reported to Corea the amount of coins collected each day, and Corea would tell him how much to put aside as the ‘take’ to be split between them.”
Brian Petaccio had already been indicted on state Grand Jury racketeering charges on March 7, 1991, long before the city contracted with UTF in 2005.
For more on this story and several other high-profile Hoboken legal cases, see this weekend's Hoboken Reporter.