On Wednesday, Tom Bertoli, a former close associate of Mayor Fulop, pled guilty in federal court to a charge contained in a 2020 indictment for tax evasion. Bertoli advised Fulop on his runs for city council and the mayor’s office.
The eight-count indictment alleged that Bertoli failed to file income tax returns, concealed income by using check cashing services, used a business account for personal expenses, and gave false statements to the IRS.
The indictment said that from 2009 to 2016 Bertoli received “hundred of thousands of dollars of gross receipts” each year helping Jersey City developers gain approval for their projects and providing politicians with “political consulting services.”
In an extensive 2019 piece on Mayor Fulop’s business dealings with developers, Bloomberg reported that some employees in Jersey City’s building department felt that Bertoli had leveraged his influence in the Fulop administration “to punish people who refused to do Bertoli’s bidding.”
Bloomberg said that Bertoli was being pressured by prosecutors to provide information on Fulop and other New Jersey political figures. There is no evidence, however, that Bertoli provided any such information.
Bloomberg did identify several problematic transactions involving the mayor related to campaign donations, tax assessments and personal home loans.
Bertoli entered a plea of guilty to the charge of Corrupt Interference with the Administration of the Internal Revenue Laws. He is facing up to 18 months in prison and more than $1 million in fines.
In a written statement, Bertoli’s attorney Jack Arseneault said “Tom Bertoli made efforts to resolve this tax case in 2017 and 2018 by accepting responsibility for his conduct. Over the following several years an intensive investigation was conducted into life of Tom Bertoli. This effort resulted in an indictment alleging the same earlier tax offenses. Today Tom accepted responsibility for the conduct forming the basis of the offense and looks forward to putting this behind him and his family.”
In 2019, the mayor’s spokesperson told Bloomberg that no special favors had been granted by or accepted from any campaign contributor or city contractor.
Sentencing is scheduled for February 7, 2023.