Workers Admit Taking Bribes to Lower Water, Sewer Bills

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Two municipal water department workers have admitted taking bribes in return for reducing the water and sewer bills of numerous customers.

Joseph DeBonis and William Ortiz both pleaded guilty Friday to official misconduct. Both had been suspended from their jobs with the New Brunswick Water Department following their arrests in November 2016.

The state attorney general’s office will recommend five-year state prison terms for DeBonis, a 55-year-old Toms River resident who served as the department’s senior account clerk, and Ortiz, a 56-year-old North Brunswick man who worked as a meter reader.

Ortiz and DeBonis reduced water and sewer bills for roughly 50 different properties over several years in return for bribes totaling approximately $20,000.

Both men will also have to pay the city restitution and forfeit any illegal proceeds. It’s estimated the scheme cost the city roughly $500,000.

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