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Two Defendants Indicted for Issuing Bogus Paterson City Building Permits, Other Records in Exchange for Payments


By: Najla Alexander 

NJ AG authorities announced that a state grand jury has voted to indict a Paterson housing and zoning inspector as well as an accomplice, charging them for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to accept money in exchange for illegitimate building permits bearing forged signatures, purported to be issued by the City of Paterson.AdAttorney General Matthew J. Platkin stated that the grand jury returned a seven-count indictment on February 20, 2024, against Jose Fermin, 50, of Prospect Park, and Jose Juan Guererro-Cruz, 44, of Cape Coral, Florida.

Guererro-Cruz was taken into custody in Fort Myers, Florida, on February 27 by officers from the Lee County Sheriff's Office, officials said.

Authorities say the indictment was handed up after Fermin and Guerrero, over a period of at least two years, allegedly produced fraudulent Paterson building permits and other records in exchange for payments.

The indictment, officials say, which follows an investigation by the Corruption Bureau of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA), alleges that the bogus documents included imitation signatures purportedly written by Paterson’s Planning and Zoning Director.

According to the investigation, the conspiracy unfolded between roughly December 2020 and February 2022.

Officials said the investigation found that Guerrero and Fermin would accept money in exchange for Fermin producing the forged and, in fact, illegitimate documents. It is alleged that some applicants were told they could receive sham permits without even submitting building plans.

Fermin’s actions, as alleged, violated Paterson Personnel Policies and Procedures requiring employees to refrain from, among other things, accepting gifts from any individual who has had or is likely to have any professional or official transactions with the City, officials stated.Ad“We will aggressively prosecute public officials who offer favors in exchange for bribes,” said Attorney General Platkin.

“Corruption makes the public lose faith that government runs in an upstanding, fair manner and in accordance with the rule of law — and it will not be tolerated by any public servant at any level.”

“We allege these defendants abused a position of authority, power, and public trust to enrich themselves personally, all while misleading their victims,” said Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of OPIA.

“They were allegedly undermining the city’s regulatory oversight by offering a workaround that was fictional and was perpetuated through the use of phony permits.”

According to officials, Fermin and Guererro-Cruz were indicted on the charges of Conspiracy (2nd degree), Official misconduct (2nd degree), Bribery in official or political matters (2nd degree), Acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by public servant for official behavior (2nd degree), Tampering with public records or information (3rd degree), Falsifying or tampering with records (4th degree), and Forgery (3rd degree).