Lakewood News

Former Lakewood Code Official Sentenced For Taking Contractor Bribes

TRENTON – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a former electrical code inspector for Lakewood Township was sentenced to prison today for accepting bribes from contractors in exchange for preferential treatment in the form of scheduling and conducting inspections more quickly or, in at least one instance, approving work that was not actually inspected.

Mitchell B. Perkins, 68, of Stafford Township, N.J., was sentenced to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels in Ocean County. Perkins pleaded guilty on Dec. 5 to second-degree conspiracy to commit bribery. As a result of the guilty plea, he is permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.

Deputy Attorney General Pearl Minato prosecuted Perkins and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The charge was contained in a June 2016 indictment that was the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Squad and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

Perkins formerly was employed as an electrical sub-code official/electrical inspector for Lakewood Township. He was arrested in this case on Sept. 25, 2015, and subsequently retired from that position.

The investigation began after the New Jersey State Police received information that Perkins had been accepting bribes from contractors. Between May and September 2015, Perkins accepted four separate payments of $300 from an electrical contractor as consideration for preferential treatment. The contractor was working as a cooperating witness for the State Police at the time and requested that Perkins inspect his work more quickly. Perkins returned the first payment, but he kept the three later payments. After the first payment, Perkins, who previously had inordinately delayed inspections of the contractor’s works sites, began to conduct timely inspections of his work sites. On one occasion, Perkins approved electrical work performed by the contractor without first inspecting the work.

In addition to the payments from the cooperating witness, the investigation revealed that Perkins accepted other payments from contractors on multiple occasions dating back to 1997 to influence the performance of his work as an electrical sub-code official and inspector for Lakewood Township.

“When inspectors like Perkins take bribes from contractors, it erodes trust in government and can threaten public safety,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This prison sentence sends a clear message that government officials who betray the public by putting their authority up for sale will face stern punishment.”

“The public has a right to expect that inspectors like Perkins will focus single-mindedly on public safety, not lining their own pockets,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll aggressively prosecute any officials who corruptly use their public positions for personal gain.”

“There are few assets more valuable than a person’s home, and homeowners have a right to expect that government inspectors will focus exclusively on ensuring that homes are safe, not on satisfying contractors who pay bribes,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This sentence sends a message that the state will not tolerate any illegal behavior that could endanger its citizens.”

Attorney General Porrino commended Deputy Attorney General Minato and the detectives who conducted the investigation for the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Squad.

Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free Corruption Tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to confidentially report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. The public also can log on to the Division’s web page at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.

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