New Brunswick Parking Authority workers keep getting charged with theft, bribery
NEW BRUNSWICK — It’s not déjà vu, it’s the New Brunswick Parking Authority.
Officials have charged four of the agency’s employees with conspiracy and taking bribes after they allegedly allowed restaurant customers to park their cars in a closed deck that was slated for demolition.
The charges come several years after six authority employees were busted on charges of taking bribes and pocketing tens of thousands of dollars in fees.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office announced the latest round of arrests Thursday, saying the employees were caught as a result of an anti-theft policy put into place by the authority, which collects $32.4 million a year.
Atis Mir-Merced, 18, and Joshue Castillo-Mendoza, 24, both of South Brunswick, and Karran Buchhan, 25, of the Somerset section of Franklin, are charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery and theft. Ferrad West, 22, of East Brunswick, was charged with conspiracy to commit theft.
Authorities are not sure how much these suspects collected in bribes, but they allege that the four, who worked as parking valet at two restaurants on Dennis Street, conspired to sell parking spots in the Wolfson parking deck, which is closed.
Authorities said the scheme began this year on Valentine’s Day.
If security guards handled money, they had a duty not to steal that money and not to allow co-workers to steal it.
In 2008, six employees were charged in similar crimes. All but two took plea deals and testified against two of their colleagues, who were found not guilty of the charge of pocketing money paid by motorists but were convicted of official misconduct for not reporting the thefts committed by their coworkers.
A Superior Court judge, however, let the two get away after their attorney argued that they had no duty to report the crimes committed by co-workers.
It was a short-lived freedom. That decision was thrown out in February by a panel of appellate judges who said that "if security guards handled money, they had a duty not to steal that money and not to allow co-workers to steal it.” The panel ordered that Emil Hanna and Emad Naguib be sentenced for their original second-degree official misconduct conviction. It was not clear Thursday the status of that case.