Public Notices and Press Releases

Two Indicted for Issuing Fake Paterson Building Permits

Two Men Indicted for Creating and Selling Fake City Permits in Exchange for Payments

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced today the indictment of a Paterson housing and zoning inspector and his accomplice for allegedly engaging in a bribery scheme involving the creation and sale of counterfeit building permits. The State Grand Jury's decision to indict comes as a significant action in combating corruption within city administration.

On February 20, 2024, the grand jury issued a seven-count indictment against Jose Fermin, 50, of Prospect Park, New Jersey, and Jose Juan Guerrero-Cruz, 44, of Cape Coral, Florida, for their purported roles in generating bogus building permits with forged signatures, purportedly from the City of Paterson. The indictment marks a pivotal moment in the investigation led by the Corruption Bureau of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA), revealing a disturbing exploitation of public trust for personal gain.

The alleged conspiracy, unfolding between December 2020 and February 2022, involved the exchange of fraudulent documents, including building permits and other city records, for monetary payments. These documents falsely bore the signature of Paterson’s Planning and Zoning Director, misleading permit applicants and undermining the city's regulatory framework.

According to Attorney General Platkin, this case underscores a firm stance against corruption at all levels of public service, emphasizing the commitment to uphold integrity and lawful governance. The actions of Fermin and Guerrero-Cruz, as described, represent a stark violation of Paterson Personnel Policies and Procedures, particularly the prohibition against accepting gifts from individuals with pending city transactions.

The charges levied against Fermin and Guerrero-Cruz include conspiracy, official misconduct, bribery, tampering with public records, and forgery, among others, reflecting the severity of their alleged misconduct. These charges highlight the legal consequences of abusing public office for personal benefit and jeopardize the fundamental trust between citizens and their government.

With potential sentences ranging from 18 months to 10 years in prison, depending on the degree of the charges, the case against Fermin and Guerrero-Cruz serves as a cautionary tale for public officials. The prosecution, led by Deputy Attorneys General Lisa Queen and Rbrey D. Singleton, is a clear signal of New Jersey's zero-tolerance policy towards corruption and the rigorous pursuit of justice in such matters.

As the legal process unfolds, it is crucial to remember that the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, this indictment is a critical step forward in restoring public confidence and ensuring that government operations are conducted ethically and transparently.

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