BIG HOUSE FOR BARRY. Hoboken developer is sentenced to 25 months in kickback scheme Ordered to pay $1M restitution, $20G fine 100-plus supporters, dad attend sentencing

Hoboken developer is sentenced to 25 months in kickback scheme Ordered to pay $1M restitution, $20G fine 100-plus supporters, dad attend sentencing

October 22, 2004 Jersey Journal
NEWARK - Hoboken-based developer Joseph Barry was sentenced yesterday to two years and one month in federal prison, ordered to make $1 million in restitution and fined $20,000 for making kickbacks to disgraced Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski.

Barry pleaded guilty in June to four counts of making illegal payments in connection with a federal program. The remaining counts, conspiracy and five mail fraud charges, were dismissed as part of a plea-bargain arrangement.

"I recognize what I did was wrong and I apologize to anyone I have hurt, be it my family, company and all the people in the county," Barry, 64, said to the court in Newark before being sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Joel Pisano to 25 months in prison - one month longer than the minimum sentence recommended by government guidelines.

Pisano gave Barry until Dec. 2 to begin his sentence, and, at Barry's request, also said that he would recommend Barry serve his sentence in a Maryland prison in order to be near family members there. Barry must also serve a period of supervised release after completing his imprisonment.

During the corruption trial of Hudson County Freeholder Nidia Davila-Colon last year, Janiszewski testified that Barry, a resident of Peapack-Gladstone, gave him $140,000 to secure $8.8 million in

federal and state transportation funding for the Shipyard housing and retail complex on Hoboken's northern waterfront. On June 22, Barry pleaded guilty to making corrupt payments to Janiszewski.

Barry and Janiszewski said that the payoffs were made only after Barry had been awarded the $8.8 million in federal funding - a distinction, Pisano said, that made the payoffs "gratuities" rather than "bribes," and therefore meant a lesser sentence for Barry under the federal guidelines.

The judge also acknowledged that Barry qualified for the federal funding he was awarded.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Goldklang, who sat at the prosecution table with FBI Special Agent William F. Sweeney, had asked that Barry receive a "significant sentence," telling Pisano that although Barry was qualified to receive the grants, the payments created an appearance of unfair bidding and contributed to a loss of confidence in government.

More than 100 people, including former Bayonne Mayor Dennis Collins, packed into Pisano's courtroom to show their support for Barry. The judge also received a bound volume of letters, more than an inch think, showing support from the developer's colleagues, government officials, tenants, family members and others.

"It is a sad and difficult day for Mr. Barry and his family, but Mr. Barry has accepted responsibility and Mr. Barry has stepped up to the plate," said Barry's attorney, Joseph A. Hayden Jr. of Roseland. "We certainly hope you look at the totality of Mr. Barry's life."

Hayden said Barry has had a lifetime of service to the community and has been devoted to creating affordable housing. He said that shortly after graduating from Rutgers Law School at the top of his class, Barry turned his attention to Hoboken, a city he characterized as being in "acute distress" at the time.

Hayden said 20 percent of existing rehabilitated housing in Hoboken is the result of Barry's work.

As head of Applied Development Companies - the building firm he founded with his father, Walter, and has since passed on to his sons, David and Michael - Barry helped drive the transformation of Hoboken from a gritty blue-collar town to a robust riverside haven teeming with restaurants, shops and young professionals.

But Pisano said it was not Barry's good deeds that brought him to the courtroom yesterday.

"We are not here because you are a good guy," Pisano said. "We are here because you paid Mr. Janiszewski money.

"We are here because you put us here. I must say this case presents to me a big mystery. I always thought you could explain crime as either stupidity, greed or passion, but this does not fit any of those . . . The question that just cries out is why did you do it?"

Barry said the payoffs were "a reward" to Janiszewski for his help.

"I dealt with Janiszewski for years and years, and there was never a question of money or corruption," Barry responded. "In this instance, he indicated he needed money and I obliged. He told me he needed money and I gave him money."

Janiszewski lawyer Bruce I. Goldstein declined to comment on Barry's statement.

FBI Special Agent Steve Kodak said Barry's payments to Janiszewski were motivated by greed, power and corruption.

"We are pleased with the sentence he received and are hopeful it sends a message, not only to politicians, but to vendors and others who believe that 'pay to play' is the way to do business," Kodak said.

"Conduct such as this only adds to corruption we have found in Hudson County government, and there is no excuse for carrying out this corrupt behavior."

The FBI corruption probe in Hudson County has netted a number of big fish in recent years.

Janiszewski pleaded guilty in October of 2002 to extortion and tax evasion charges. Dr. Oscar Sandoval, a Union City psychiatrist, helped the federal government provide evidence of Janiszewski taking bribes to guarantee Sandoval millions of dollars in county contracts. Once fingered, Janiszewski worked with the FBI and wore a wire.

Davila-Colon, of Jersey City, was convicted in June 2003 for passing bribes from Sandoval to Janiszewski. She was sentenced to 37 months.

This past June, Freeholder William Braker pleaded to one count of extortion. He took $3,880 from Sandoval in exchange for his vote and influence on contracts with both the county and the Jersey City Police Department.

In July, Janiszewski confidante and Barry co-defendant Paul J. Byrne admitted to tax evasion and extortion in 2000 and 2001. Byrne had passed $6,150 in payments to Janiszewski from Hoboken accountant Gerard Lisa, keeping some for himself. Lisa was seeking renewal of his county contract.

Former Hoboken Mayor Anthony Russo pleaded guilty on Sept. 29 to three counts of mail fraud. He admitted taking payments totaling $5,000 from Lisa to guarantee Lisa's firm obtained municipal contracts.

In July 2003, Lisa pleaded guilty to one count of using the U.S. mail to participate in a scheme to defraud the citizens of Hudson County by paying annual bribes to Janiszewski and a "highly placed elected official" in Hoboken from 1997 to 2001.

With time off for good behavior, Barry could be free by the summer of 2006. He declined to comment to reporters after the hearing, but spent 15 minutes accepting handshakes, hugs and kisses from his supporters.

As the crowd swarmed around Barry, his 83-year-old father smiled.

Asked for his reaction, Walter Barry said, "He got a break, didn't he?"

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