Former Newark Watershed Conservation Official Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison in Bribery and Kickback Scheme

Date Published: 
July 13, 2017
News Type: 
Press Releases
Program Area(s): 
Community Development Block Grant

NEWARK, N.J. – A former high-ranking employee of the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. (NWCDC) was sentenced today to 96 months in prison for accepting $956,948 in kickback payments for his and the former executive director’s assistance in awarding work to contractors, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Donald Bernard Sr., 69, of West Orange, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares to Counts 9 and 10 of a 20-count indictment returned in December 2014, charging him with the use of interstate facilities to promote and facilitate bribery in violation of the Travel Act, and Count 1 of an information that charges him with making and subscribing a false personal tax return for the 2009 tax year. Judge Linares imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in these and other cases and statements made in court:

Bernard served as a consultant to the NWCDC (from 2008 to January 2010) and then as a salaried employee (from January 2010 to March 2013). From 2008 to March 2013, Bernard was part of a corrupt arrangement with former NWCDC Executive Director Linda Watkins Brashear to solicit $956,948 in cash kickbacks from certain NWCDC contractors in exchange for providing them work and other assistance. Bernard and Brashear facilitated NWCDC payments to contractors to fund cash kickbacks to themselves, knowing payments were inflated above the amount of any work performed. They knew that in numerous instances no work at all had been performed. Bernard and Brashear used their email accounts to facilitate this scheme...