Former N.J. gas company official sentenced for fraudulent gas scheme

Drew Smith Sep. 19, 2008, 2:00pm


TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram announced Friday that the former director of operations of NUI Energy Brokers, Inc., has been sentenced to 60 days in jail for diverting profits from the Elizabethtown Gas Company.

Joseph Principato Jr., of Linden, N.J., was sentenced as a condition of three years probation by Union County Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim. Principato was also ordered to pay a $75,000 fine.

In a case prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Thomas Clark, Principato pleaded guilty on June 23 to diverting profits from Elizabethtown Gas Company to his company through sham purchases and sales of natural gas. The crime resulted in a loss of at least $37,500 to the gas company.

As operations director for NUI, Principato directed two schemes between 1997-2003 that generated profits for his company at the expense of Elizabethtown Gas by steering more favorable deals to NUI. The company then allocated 15 percent of its profits as bonuses to employees like Principato.

NUI Energy Brokers pleaded guilty in 2004 to third-degree corporate misconduct and agreed to pay a $500,000 fine.

The firm also agreed to reimburse ratepayers of Elizabethtown Gas $28 million and pay a $2 million penalty to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

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