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Bribery Alleged to Clear $9M Code Fine

Friday, June 6, 2014

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A New Jersey contractor is accused of paying a fire official $7,000 to eliminate nearly $9 million in outstanding fines on buildings with fire code violations.

Victor Coca, 48, was arrested May 20 and charged with one count of paying a bribe to a local government agent, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced in a release.

The North Bergen contractor faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense.

Coca
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Victor Coca, 48, of North Bergen, NJ, has been charged with one count of paying a bribe to a local government agent, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

Coca owns YYY Enterprise LLC, of West New York, NJ, and is the founder of a political action committee, West New York Future Vision. YYY Enterprise was founded in 2006 and offers demolition, excavation, general contracting and other services, according to its website.

The website further indicates the company is a “business based on trust.”

“We do the right thing,” the website says.

2 Buildings, 2 Bribes

According to the complaint, Coca first attempted to bribe an unidentified West New York fire official in February.

He offered $5,000 to eliminate outstanding fire-code violation fines at one of his friend’s buildings, identified as “Building 1,” prosecutors allege. The owner of Building 1 owed $14,500 in fines.

After in-person meetings in March, Coca paid the official, who is cooperating with the government, $2,000 to eliminate the $14,500 debt, prosecutors say.

At the meetings, Coca also offered the official another bribe to take care of some $8.7 million in fines and penalties for outstanding fire code violations at a building Coca owned, identified as “Building 2.”

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman
www.justice.gov

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman credited special agents of the FBI with the ongoing investigation leading to Coca's arrest.

Coca had initiated construction of Building 2 and intended to convert it from a commercial factory into an apartment complex, according to the complaint.

In April, following meetings and phone calls with the cooperating official, Coca wrote and delivered a $5,000 check to the West New York Fire Prevention department, the complaint says.

He also gave the official $5,000 in cash for “eliminating the remainder of the outstanding penalties on Building 2,” prosecutors allege.

Many of the conversations between Coca and the official were videotaped, audiotaped or otherwise recorded.

‘Thank you’

During one recorded conversation after the payments, Coca allegedly thanked the official for his help.

“Thank you for […] solving everything, okay? In a most convenient way for you guys and for us,” he said, according to the complaint.

Charges ‘Ridiculous’

During Coca’s first appearance following his arrest, his defense attorney, Zak Aljaludi, called the charges “ridiculous” and told the U.S. District Court in Newark that his client was a self-made Cuban immigrant trying to “build the American dream,” according to nj.com.

Prosecutors said the defense attorney may change his mind once he views the recorded meetings with the official and other evidence presented by the FBI, the report said.

Coca was released on a $100,000 bond, forced to surrender his U.S. and Cuban passports, and ordered to stay within New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

   

Tagged categories: Building codes; Criminal acts; Ethics; Fire; Laws and litigation

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (6/7/2014, 12:11 AM)

What? Corruption in Hudson County? I don't believe it.


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