The on again, off again federal court case of Tom Bertoli, former advisor to Mayor Steven Fulop, is now headed to trial.
Bertoli, who advised Fulop in his runs for city council and mayor, was indicted for tax evasion in June 2020. The eight-count indictment alleges 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.
According to the indictment, Bertoli ran a business in which he received payments from developers in exchange for his “expediting services” on real estate and constructions projects. Bertoli was also paid by political campaigns for “political consulting services.” Bertoli, the indictment states, received “hundred of thousands of dollars of gross receipts” each year from 2009 to 2016.
An indefinite postponement of the the case in December had stoked speculation that Bertoli might have entered into a cooperating agreement with authorities.
At the time, Chris Adams, a criminal defense attorney in Red Bank with 25 years of experience told the Jersey City Times, “It says to me that he’s possibly cooperating. The only other reasonable explanation is illness.” However, in the case of illness “you’d always set a control date. The fact that nothing is set is peculiar.”
However, in a January 1 phone call, Bertoli co-counsel Jack Arseneault, shot down such speculation, saying “it’s not what you are insinuating.” Instead, Arseneault said that the indefinite postponement was due to a “very significant health issue” leading some to surmise that Bertoli might be ill.
Today, Arseneault said “I never said the health issue was Mr. Bertoli’s health. We are going to trial.” At yesterday’s status conference, Judge Brian R. Martinotti scheduled the trial for February 2, 2023.
In 2019, Bloomberg reported that Bertoli was being pressured by prosecutors to provide information on Fulop and other New Jersey political figures. While no charges have been lodged against the mayor, Bloomberg identified several problematic transactions including campaign donations and political arrangements, tax assessments and personal home loans.
The mayor’s spokesperson told Bloomberg that no special favors had been granted by or accepted from any campaign contributor or city contractor.
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