Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Developer pleads guilty of bribery


Hackensack-based developer Finbar O'Neill has pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges, according to court records obtained Monday by The Record.

O'Neill, a native of Northern Ireland and a Paramus resident, pleaded guilty last month and is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 19 before Judge Victor Marrero in the Southern District of New York.

He is connected with at least two pending development projects in Bergen County — the Soldier Hill project in Paramus and Northern Park in Rochelle Park.

The fate of the Paramus tract has been a source of controversy and legal dispute since developers first proposed building on it six years ago.

The 35-acre tract is easily the largest undeveloped piece of land in the borough. The Paramus Board of Adjustment is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the plan Thursday.

Shamrock Creek LLC is the company pushing to develop the Soldier Hill tract.

Several of O'Neill's business interests — including Shamrock Creek LLC, the O'Neill Group, the Gabriel Group and Dutchess Landing LLC — are based at the same Hackensack address. Onekey LLC, whose chief executive is Paula O'Neill, Finbar O'Neill's wife, also is based at the Hudson Street address.

In a court transcript dated May 20, O'Neill admits making payments to Carpenters union officials so that another one of his companies, KAFCI, would not have to hire union carpenters or pay union wages and benefits in Manhattan.

O'Neill said he delivered bribes to Michael Forde, the head of the Carpenters union's District Council in New York City. Forde is charged with accepting payments from contractors that defrauded the union by employing non-union labor and paying union members below-union rates.

"I will spend the rest of my life living with the consequences of my actions and working to repair the damage I had caused to others and to myself and to my family," O'Neill said, according to a court transcript.

He declined to comment when contacted by phone Monday.

O'Neill also pleaded guilty to felonies in two New York cases in 2004.

In May 2004, he admitted violating a New York State business law prohibiting restraint of free trade. He was accused in the indictment of working with Lucchese crime family associates to commit grand larceny and to falsify business records.

He was sentenced to three years' conditional discharge, which meant that any legal repercussions associated with the charge would be dismissed after three years of maintaining a clean record.

In the other indictment — which resulted in the conviction of former New York State Sen. Guy Velella — O'Neill was accused of falsifying business records. He pleaded guilty to the charge in April 2004 and was sentenced to five years' probation, five years of government monitoring and a $50,000 fine.

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