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Spicuzzo Sentenced in Jobs-for-cash Scheme

The former Middlesex County sheriff was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison in a jobs-for-cash scheme that prosecutors said netted him $112,000 over a more than a decade.

Joseph Spicuzzo (NJ Office of the Attorney General)
NJ Office of the Attorney General

Joseph Spicuzzo, 68, of Helmetta, who also ran the Democratic Party in the county for many years, had pleaded guilty in June to a single count of bribery as part of a plea deal and agreed to forfeit his state pension.

As part of the sentence, he was also fined $55,000. He’ll be eligible for parole in two years.

Also getting jail time Friday was a former sheriff’s investigator who, prosecutors said, paid a $5,000 bribe to the sheriff before being hired in 1999 and went on to become a bagman for Spicuzzo, collecting bribes.

“Sheriff Spicuzzo’s decades as a political powerbroker in Middlesex County corrupted him to the point that he viewed jobs in the sheriff’s office as personal assets he could sell for his own enrichment,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “Spicuzzo clearly thought he was above the law, because that is the only way to explain his brazen demands for bribes from new recruits.”

Prosecutors accused Spicuzzo of directly or indirectly soliciting and taking bribes ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 from seven people seeking to be hired as investigators. While sheriff’s officers are hired through the civil service system, investigators are appointed by the sheriff.

Prosecutors said he also took bribes from a sheriff’s officer for two promotions.

Spicuzzo was arrested in 2011. He had been sheriff for nearly 30 years, deciding not to seek re-election in 2010.

After his arrest, he resigned as chairman of the Middlesex County Democratic Party, a job he held for 16 years. He also resigned his position as a commissioner on the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority.

Darrin DiBiasi, a 45-year-old sheriff’s investigator from Monmouth Junction, was sentenced to 364 days in the county jail, fined $5,000 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

The investigation found that he collected bribes from several individuals seeking investigator positions and delivered the money to Spicuzzo, prosecutors said.

DiBiasi had pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to make illegal gifts to a public servant.

A second officer who pleaded guilty to the same charge is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 4.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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