N.J. Company Fined $1M For Pay-to-Play Scheme

A once prominent New Jersey engineering firm was fined $1 million Friday for its involvement in a pay-to-play scheme.
The Asbury Park Press
reports a state Superior Court judge imposed the fine on Birdsall Services Group. The defunct Eatontown-based company once had more than 1,800 public contracts worth more than $26 million.
The company pleaded guilty in June to making false representations to obtain government contracts and to financial facilitation.
Birdsall has already been fined $2.6 million by the state to settle separate criminal charges.
The state attorney general's office has alleged that instead of Birdsall making corporate political contributions to campaigns and political organizations that would disqualify it from public contracts awarded by government agencies, shareholders and employees made personal contributions of $300 or less, which do not have to be reported.
The state claims multiple personal checks were bundled together at Birdsall and sent to the campaigns or political organization. The shareholders and employees were then illegally reimbursed by Birdsall, directly or indirectly, through bonus payments.

The firm also omitted the illegally reimbursed contributions in documents filed with the Election Law Enforcement Commission and with government agencies that awarded the company contracts.
The attorney general's office has said the scheme continued for more than six years.
Seven company executives or shareholders including former CEO Howard Birdsall, face conspiracy and money laundering charges and have entered not guilty pleas. Two former employees of the company's marketing department previously pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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