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Mercer County Prosecutor charges one contractor in illegal dumping case

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Private contractors were allowed to dump dirt and other materials at municipal property on River Road in Princeton in exchange for bribes, according to sources. The Mercer County Prosecutor has charged two people in the case now.

The owner of an Edison-based construction company has been charged with bribing a supervisor for the municipality of Princeton in exchange for dumping dirt at the River Road sewer department site.

The investigation into illegal dumping was triggered by a series of stories written by Planet Princeton. Planet Princeton investigated accusations about illegal dumping and the misuse of municipal resources at the sewer department for several months. In addition to at least four contractors being allowed to dump at the site, sewer employees and municipal trucks were allegedly used by private contractors for their jobs.

On Friday, Sept. 6, a summons complaint was signed charging Pantelis Kounelias, 64, with one count of second-degree bribery. Kounelias is the owner of V & K Construction in Edison. The complaint alleges that between July 1 of 2018 and August 31 of 2018, Kounelias paid a supervisor for town of Princeton about $3,000 in bribes to allow him to dump excavated soil from a water park project at the Princeton Sewer Operating Committee yard on River Road in Princeton.

The former Princeton supervisor, Thomas Hughes, 46, of Browns Mills, was also charged with one count of second-degree bribery in June. The arrest was not released at the time Hughes’ complaint was filed because of the ongoing investigation.

Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said that the charges are the result of an investigation by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Economic Crime Unit.

Kounelias is scheduled to appear in Mercer County Superior Court on September 24. Hughes’ next court appearance is scheduled for October 16.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information about illegal dumping by contractors at the River Road facility is asked to contact the Mercer County Economic Crime Unit at (609) 989-6365.

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Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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