MORRISTOWN, N.J. (AP) -- A former senior engineer for New Jersey's transportation department is headed to prison for his role in a scheme to fraudulently get state funds for a railroad repair project.

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State authorities announced Monday that 36-year-old Gaudner Metellus, of Philadelphia, received a three-year term when he was sentenced late Friday. He also forfeited all of his state pension and retirement benefits and is barred from holding public employment.

Metellus had pleaded guilty in January to official misconduct.

Metellus admitted that he and Ernest J. Dubose, a New York attorney who lives in Jersey City, worked together to inflate the cost of a 2010 project to rehab the Eagle Rock Railroad Bridge in Roseland from about $700,000 to $1.4 million. The pair also solicited $325,000 in bribes from a railroad company that runs a short line freight railroad in New Jersey.

The $325,000 was their share of the extra state grant funds that were to be spent on the project, authorities said. The company tipped the government off to the scheme and cooperated in the investigation.

An official with the railroad secretly recorded a meeting between the company president, another employee and Metellus in Morristown where he described the fraud. Metellus proposed the company submit false invoices for work that would never be performed and agreed that he would split the state grant funds with them, authorities said.

According to the attorney general's office, Metellus and Dubose met later in 2010 with railroad officials in Morristown and received two checks payable to Dubose for $10,000 and $315,000. Dubose and Metellus told the company to list Dubose as a consultant, though he was not qualified as one, authorities said.

Dubose allegedly acted as the middle man to accept the bribes, disburse them between himself and Metellus, and insulate Metellus from detection.

Dubose received a six-year sentence in May.


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