Law & Courts

Wrong District Identified In Case Against Ex-Mayor

By Catherine Gewertz — September 06, 2000 1 min read

An article in the Aug. 2, 2000, issue of Education Week about the indictment of a former mayor of Newark, N.J., on federal charges related to his firm’s management of a school construction project misidentified the district involved. It is the 7,800-student Irvington Township district in Essex County, N.J., not the Irvington Union Free School District in Westchester County, N.Y., as was erroneously reported.

Kenneth A. Gibson is charged with defrauding the Irvington, N.J., school board in connection with the $50 million project, for which Mr. Gibson’s Newark-based engineering firm served as construction manager.

An indictment returned by a federal grand jury in July charged Mr. Gibson and two associates with conspiracy, fraud, bribery, and tax schemes beginning in 1991, when his firm was hired by the board.

At their arraignment on Aug. 21 before U.S. District Judge William G. Bassler in Newark, the three pleaded not guilty, and a tentative trial date of Oct. 31 was set, according to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Newark.

Prosecutors say that Mr. Gibson’s firm, Gibson Associates, billed the Irvington district for $4 million between 1991 and 1995.

In a Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit filed for the arraignment, the prosecutors contended that $1 million of that amount had been billed fraudulently.

Cathy Fleming, a lawyer for Mr. Gibson, has said that her client cooperated fully with a four-year probe by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service and that he is confident he will be vindicated when all the facts are known. She called the indictment “unfortunate and unwarranted.”

The Irvington project, which was financed through the sale of bonds, included the construction of Thurgood Marshall Middle School as well as renovations and expansions of the district’s Myrtle Avenue and Union Avenue schools, according to U.S. Attorney Robert J. Cleary.

While the middle school was substantially completed in 1994, work on the other two schools was delayed for two years and wasn’t completed until September 1998, federal authorities said.

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