A second employee who worked for the municipality of Princeton has been charged by the Mercer County Prosecutor in connection with the illegal dumping investigation in Princeton.
Frank Casole, 60, was charged this week with being an accomplice to bribery in the second degree for allegedly being complicit in the illegal dumping scandal by aiding a fellow employee, Thomas Hughes, in 2018. The prosecutor’s office alleges that Casole had knowledge of the bribes his supervisor allegedly accepted, and that he allegedly recorded and concealed the illegal dumping by allegedly keeping track of the truckloads of illegal waste being dumped and co-mingling the construction waste with other waste so it wouldn’t be discovered.
Hughes, the municipal sewer department supervisor who allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for allowing companies to dump waste at the River Road facility, was charged with bribery in the second degree in June of 2019. Pantelis Kounelias, the owner of V & K Construction in Edison, was charged in September.
Kounelias allegedly paid Hughes about $3,000 in bribes to allow him to dump excavated soil from a municipal water park project at the Princeton sewer department yard between April 1 of 2018 and August 31 of 2018. The park project excavation project was completed before August of 2018, but dirt was also allegedly dug up at the property next door to the park, or it is possible that construction waste was being dumped at the municipal facility from other private projects.
The next court appearance for Kounelias is scheduled for October 30. Hughes’ next court appearance is scheduled for November 20. Casole is scheduled to appear in Mercer County Superior Court on October 31.
All of the charges are the result of an investigation by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Economic Crime Unit. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Economic Crime Unit at (609) 989-6365.
Planet Princeton first published stories about the illegal dumping at the River Road facility in late May. Employees alleged that at least four companies were allowed to dump waste at the facility in exchange for cash. They also said a local developer was allowed to purchase sewer piping for teardown redevelopment projects in exchange for cash. Employees for the department and municipal equipment were also allegedly used by one contractor for private sewer jobs.
Hughes and Casole are no longer employed by the municipality. Both have been terminated. Two other municipal employees have also been terminated as a result of the investigation. No other business owners allegedly involved in the illegal dumping have been charged yet. When Planet Princeton first published stories on the dumping, town officials said there was a “misunderstanding” by Planet Princeton about what was happening at the site.