Former county officials plead guilty to extortion

BY DAN NEWMAN Staff Writer

Staff Writer

NEWARK — Former Monmouth County officials Richard Iadanza and Joseph McCurnin pleaded guilty to extortion charges last week stemming from their Feb. 22, 2005, arrests as part of Operation Bid Rig.

Iadanza, 50, a former deputy mayor and police commissioner in Neptune and superintendent of the Monmouth County Division of Highways, entered his plea before Judge William Martini on Thursday in federal court.

After Iadanza, who told Martini he is currently employed at a hotel and pizzeria, it was time for McCurnin, who in federal documents has been referred to as “Joey Buses,” to enter a plea.

McCurnin, 64, a former operations manager for the Monmouth County Division of Transportation, pleaded guilty and, like Iadanza, is facing a maximum of 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

Martini said a sentencing date will be set up in the future.

In December, the pair entered into plea agreements with the federal government. They were introduced to a person they thought was a corrupt contractor in 2004, only to later discover he was a cooperating witness involved with the FBI.

McCurnin facilitated payments to Iadanza, and he also admitted on Thursday that he helped plot when and where the payments would be made.

On two separate occasions in 2004, June 25 and Nov. 17, Iadanza took $1,500 payments from the cooperating witness.

As part of Operation Bid Rig, 11 Monmouth County officials were arrested and charged with various crimes, including corruption, extortion and money laundering.