Trenton – Senator Shirley Turner announced today that she has introduced legislation to permanently disqualify public contractors from future bidding opportunities if they have been convicted of fraudulent activity involving any previously awarded public contract.
The legislation (S-2167) comes on the heels of the sentencing of two South Jersey contractors who pleaded guilty to making false representations in order to win a government contract. In addition to being sentenced to three years probation for bid rigging and inflating school contracts, the contractors are also disqualified from public contracts for five years and must pay a $25,000 penalty.
“Doing business with government is a trust, and public bidders that defraud New Jersey’s taxpayers should not be entitled to the opportunity of doing business with our school districts, local, county, and state governments in the future,” said Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Five years’ disqualification is not enough for violating the public trust; these contractors are not welcome business partners now, in five years, or anytime in the future. Taxpayers deserve the peace of mind that government will only conduct business with honest, trustworthy companies.”
According to the state Attorney General, Martin Starr and Stephen Gallagher, both of Cliffwood Beach, were involved with a bid-rigging scheme that allowed them to be awarded public contracts based on fraudulent and fictitious quotes. Earlier this year, Kenneth Disko, of Mountainside, was sentenced to three years in state prison for his role in orchestrating the bid-rigging scheme and receiving kickbacks in exchange for recommending approval of the contracts.
“We need to send a clear message that government is serious about not doing business with felons. Therefore, we should take measures to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse by dishonest individuals and businesses that provide contracted services to New Jersey’s government entities,” said Turner. “These contractors should receive more than just a slap on the wrist for violating the public trust. Their fraudulent activities provided them with personal gains at the expense of overburdened taxpayers. We need to keep these contractors’ hands out of the public coffers and protect taxpayer dollars by eliminating any future financial risk to taxpayers.”