TRENTON - The man behind the disastrous Fenimore Landfill redevelopment project, the subject of a series of award-winning Kane In Your Corner investigations, has been arrested and indicted on charges including theft by deception and first-degree money laundering.
Richard Bernardi made his first appearance in Morris County Court Wednesday afternoon.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office charges Bernardi and his company, Strategic Environmental Partners, with lying to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to secure a state contract to redevelop the contaminated site. Paul Loriquet, spokesman for the attorney general, says Bernardi made “numerous misrepresentations” about his plan to convert the site to a solar farm.
As Kane In Your Corner reported, the site was temporarily reopened as part of the disastrous plan, which resulted in unsafe levels of toxic chemicals in the air in the Roxbury area. Many residents, especially children and those with weakened immune systems, were left sickened.
The attorney general also alleges Bernardi improperly diverted more than $5 million in landfill fees for personal and unauthorized use. Under the terms of the agreement, that money should have remained in escrow.
Bernardi’s attorney insists he is innocent and says that the state is retaliating because Bernardi sued in an effort to get the land back.
Bernardi could face 10 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
He is free on $150,000 bail.