Criminal Justice News

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Former Jersey City Construction Project Superintendent Sentenced to Prison for Social Security Disability Scam

NEWARK—The former project superintendent on a Jersey City, New Jersey high-rise construction project was sentenced today to six months in prison and six months of home confinement for a scheme in which he hid his employment so he could continue to receive Social Security disability payments, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Pasquale Zinna, 44, of Hackettstown, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of the indictment against him: Social Security disability fraud and structuring financial transactions. His wife, Janeen Zinna, 43, was also sentenced today—to two years’ probation with the special condition of 100 hours of community service. She previously pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging her with misprision of her husband’s Social Security fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Katharine S. Hayden imposed the sentences today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In 1999, Pasquale Zinna filed an application for disability insurance benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA), claiming that, as of March 15, 1996, he was disabled and unable to work due to a back injury. By filing the application, Pasquale Zinna agreed to notify the SSA if there was any improvement in his medical condition or if he regained the ability to work.

Beginning in September 2005, Pasquale Zinna was the project superintendent for 160 Broadway Concrete, a sub-contractor at the high-rise construction project at 77 Hudson Street in Jersey City. He failed to report his return to work to Social Security and concealed his employment at Broadway Concrete by having his paychecks issued to him in the names of other individuals, including his wife. Janeen Zinna admitted during her guilty plea that she filed a joint federal income tax return with her husband for 2007 which claimed income received from Broadway Concrete was for work she performed.

Pasquale Zinna also admitted to making a series of cash withdrawals from his joint checking account with his wife at Commerce Bank, now TD Bank, in order to avoid the bank’s reporting requirement for financial transactions in excess of $10,000.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hayden sentenced Pasquale Zinna to three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $101,753 in restitution to the Social Security Administration and to forfeit $98,000 involved in the illegal financial transactions. Janeen Zinna was also held responsible for the restitution. The defendants paid these obligations in full at today’s proceeding.

Four New York men have also pleaded guilty to a wide range of fraud and other offenses stemming from their involvement in the Jersey City construction project between 2007 and 2008.

Rocco Mazzaferro, 64, of Brooklyn, New York, and Vincenzo Genovese, 75, of Staten Island, New York, pleaded guilty November 22, 2011 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Vincenzo Genovese also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to embezzle pension benefits.

Anselmo Genovese, 44, of Staten Island, New York, pleaded guilty December 16, 2011 to two counts of making unlawful labor payments.

Eric Haynberg, 46, of New York, pleaded guilty December 16, 2011, to a superseding information charging him with misprision of the wire fraud committed by Mazzaferro and Vincenzo Genovese.

The sentencings of Mazzaferro and Vincenzo Genovese are currently scheduled for July 10, and July 12, 2012, respectively. Sentencing for Eric Haynberg is currently scheduled for June 7, 2012, and for Anselmo Genovese on July 11, 2012.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; and Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Panella for the New York Region, for the investigation leading to the arrests and charges. He also thanked the IRS, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge JoAnn S. Zuniga; and the SSA Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Edward J. Ryan, New York Field Division, for their work on this case, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, for its assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie F. Schwartz of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

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