Vincenti, Concannon get fines, probation

Former O.B. officials also sentenced to community service


Staff Writer

Two former Old Bridge township officials who pleaded guilty to taking favors from developers were sentenced last week to pay fines, serve probation and perform community service.

John Vincenti, who was township engineer and director of community development from 2001-05, and Ronald Concannon, a code inspection officer and construction official who resigned in 2004 after 21 years with the township, received their sentences Friday from Judge Fred DeVesa in state Superior Court, New Brunswick.

Vincenti, 44, of Brick, Ocean County, was ordered to pay a $5,000 criminal fine, and to give $3,500 — which authorities said is equal to the services he illegally received — to the state Antitrust Revolving Fund. He will also have to perform 100 hours of community service and serve three years of probation. The court also ordered that Vincenti be permanently barred from government employment, as well as from any consultant employment that might draw on prior government experience or knowledge.

Concannon, 69, of Lakewood, Ocean County, was ordered to pay a $4,000 criminal penalty and pay $3,000 to the Antitrust Revolving Fund. He must perform 400 hours of community service and serve five years of probation. Concannon was also permanently barred from future public employment.

As part of both sentences, Vincenti and Concannon must fully cooperate with the state Department of Criminal Justice’s ongoing corruption investigation related to Old Bridge’s engineering and code enforcement offices.

DeVesa noted during Friday’s hearing that the abuse of public trust was a significant aggravating factor in both cases.

A third former Old Bridge employee, Barry C. Bowers, 63, of Point Pleasant, Ocean County, who has pleaded guilty to official misconduct, is scheduled for sentencing March 31. Bowers, who worked for Old Bridge from 1994 until last year as a construction officer, admitted that he solicited and accepted more than $7,400 in home repairs from a builder doing business in the township, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Bowers faces five to 10 years in prison, but may be able to enroll in an early parole program.

The three officials were indicted between January and August 2005, more than a year after the state began an investigation into their departments, a probe that remains in progress, according to state officials.

In December, Vincenti pleaded guilty to a charge of accepting gifts while a public servant. His indictment states that between May and August 2003, he solicited and received more than $3,500 worth of landscaping services at his Brick Township home. Those services were paid for by a representative of Atlantic Realty, the developer of Matchaponix Hills, Matchaponix Estates (Rocky Creek) and Presidential Estates, all in Old Bridge.

Vincenti’s attorney, James Plaisted, this week described the situation as an isolated incident.

“This matter involved a single instance where John Vincenti happened to receive a small gratuity of yard work,” Plaisted said.

Since his arrest, Vincenti has taken steps to put the matter behind him, his attorney said.

“It was for all these reasons the judge gave him a noncustodial sentence,” he said. “John has always been a very productive member of society. He’ll continue to support and be supported by his family.”

Concannon pleaded guilty in January to two counts of taking gifts while a public servant. His August indictment charged that from August through October 1998, Concannon solicited and received $3,000 in replacement windows and household appliances. Eleven windows and a Sears washer and dryer were installed in Concannon’s home and paid for by Woodcliff Developers Inc. That company was involved in the building of Oxford Estates in Old Bridge.

“Attacking government corruption is a priority of the Attorney General’s Office. Any official at any level of government that abuses his or her office for personal gain will be brought to justice,” Attorney General Zulima V. Farber said in a statement.

Mayor Jim Phillips echoed Farber’s standpoint.

“I fully concur with the attorney general,” he said.

Phillips has repeatedly said that his administration has been helping state investigators as much as possible and doing what it can “to clean up the situation.”

The sentences of Vincenti and Concannon are both considered cooperating plea agreements due to the fact that the men will have to comply with the ongoing investigation, according to John Hagerty, spokesman for the attorney general’s Department of Criminal Justice.

While Hagerty did say that the corruption probe will continue in Old Bridge, he would not comment on whether further arrests are to be expected.

“I can’t say at this point,” he said.