Company hired to clean landfiill charged with lying, diverting millions
The head of the company hired to clean up the Fenimore Landfill in Roxbury was arrested at his home on charges he diverted $5 million in fees to his personal account and lied about his company's ability to convert the site into a solar farm.
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said Richard W. Bernardi Sr., 61, of Millstown Township, who runs Strategic Environmental Partners, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of money laundering (first degree), making false representations for a government contract (second degree), two counts of theft by deception (second degree) and one count of theft of services (second degree).
“We’ve taken civil action on behalf of the state Department of Enviornmental Protection Agency to recover millions of dollars spent to address Bernardi’s mismanagement of the landfill,” Hoffman said. “However, Bernardi also must be held accountable criminally, because he allegedly lied repeatedly to the state and the former owner of this landfill so that he could reap millions in tipping fees, while nearby residents and the environment suffered. Bernardi falsely represented this project from the start, and the neighbors of Fenimore paid the price by breathing the foul odors emitted as this landfill remained uncapped.”
Neighbors have complained for years about the rotten egg stink coming from the landfill. SEP was hired in 2011 to to properly close the landfill and convert it into a solar farm and build a 10-megawatt power facility. Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice said that Bernardi “allegedly told lie upon lie, misrepresenting SEP’s finances, his ability to properly close this landfill, and his prospects for generating and selling solar power."
Hoffman said that the solar project never got underway and the landfill was unfeasible for such a large power generating plant.
Bernardi is being held in the Morris County Jail pending his first court appearance where bail will be set.