Solar scam's Birdsall pleads GUILTY

The 2011 document used to sell the solar deal to the Sussex County Freeholders was called the Solar Proposal Evaluation Report. It was the work of a committee that was formed to sell the solar scheme -- the Sussex County Evaluation Team Here are the members of the team:

- John Eskilson Sussex County Administrator

- Dennis McConnell, Sussex County Attorney

- Bernard Re, Sussex County Treasurer

- Steve Pearlman, a lawyer with Inglesino, Pearlman, Wyciskala & Taylor

- Deb Verderame, a lawyer with Inglesino, Pearlman, Wyciskala & Taylor

- Gerry Genna, Birdsall Services Group

- Tom Brys, Birdsall Services Group

- Douglas Bacher, NW Financial Group

- Heather Litzebauer, NW Financial Group

- Steven Gabel, Gabel Associates

- Richard Preiss, Gabel Associates

- Cadence Bowden, Gabel Associates

The evaluation team was put together by John Eskilson.  Two Birdsall cronies were on the team.  Eskilson later got rewarded with a position as a trustee with the Sussex County Community College.  The Freeholders who voted for that were Phil Crabb, Richard Vohden, and Dennis Mudrick.

Yesterday, Birdsall's CEO pleaded guilty to criminal political corruption.  We'll let Star-Ledger reporter S. P. Sullivan take it from here:

Birdsall CEO pleads guilty in huge N.J. pay-to-play scheme

The former CEO of what was one of the state's most politically connected engineering firms is facing four years in state prison after admitting to his role in a $1 million scheme to circumvent New Jersey's pay-to-play laws.

Howard Birdsall, 72, pleaded guilty Thursday to corporate misconduct in Superior Court in Ocean County, according to the state Attorney General's Office.

Birdsall, of Brielle, was the top corporate officer and largest shareholder of Birdsall Services Group, the now-defunct Monmouth County firm that folded after investigators found executives and employees were reimbursed by the company for campaign donations to politicians. 

Under a plea deal, Howard Birdsall faces the prison time and will pay $49,808 — the total amount of political donations he personally made in the scheme. Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said in a statement Thursday that Birdsall's plea "should serve as a warning to any corporate officials who would engage in this type of criminal scheme."

Birdsall's attorney, John P. McDonald, declined to comment.

Birdsall exec pleads guilty in pay-to-play scheme

In 2013, the company pleaded guilty to first-degree money laundering and second-degree making false representations for government contracts, crimes for which it paid a $1 million fine. It was later sold to a California firm that pledged not to make political contributions in New Jersey.

Company records obtained by The Star-Ledger that year showed that hundreds of politicians, from mayors and freeholders to major state power brokers, received money from the firm. Those donations came in the form of personal checks from shareholders and firm employees, who were reimbursed through bonus payments and other means, authorities said. 

Three other former Birdsall employees — chief administrative officer Scott MacFadden, of Brick, marketing director Philip Angarone, of Hamilton, and Eileen Kufahl, of Bradley Beach, previously pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing, authorities said.

A former executive vice president at the firm, Thomas Rospos, of Belmar, is scheduled to go on trial on Feb. 22.