NEWARK, N.J. – A political consultant from Essex County, New Jersey, today admitted her role in a fraud scheme related to contracts with the Newark Watershed Development Corp. (NWCDC) and kickbacks to officials there, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Dianthe Martinez Brooks, 42, of West Orange, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark federal court to an information charging her with one count of wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Martinez Brooks was the owner and proprietor of a consulting company called DMart127 LLC, which provided political consulting services to local candidates and elected officials, among others, in the Essex County area. Between May 2011 and March 2013, she participated in a scheme with Linda Watkins Brashear, the former NWCDC Executive Director, and Donald Bernard, the former Director of Special Projects, to defraud the NWCDC of the honest services of Brashear and Bernard, and of money and property.
Martinez Brooks submitted fraudulent invoices to the NWCDC in the name of DMart127 detailing services that were purportedly performed, but which sought payments that overstated the value of any services she or her company performed. Martinez-Brooks also assisted in obtaining contracts between companies owned by Kevin Gleaton and the NWCDC and contracts between a company owned by her relative and the NWCDC through Bernard and Brashear. Fraudulent invoices were submitted in the name of those companies to the NWCDC detailing services that were purportedly performed, but were never rendered by Gleaton, his companies, or Martinez Brooks’ relative. Based on the fraudulent invoices, the NWCDC issued checks to DMart127, Gleaton’s companies and company belonging to Martinez’s relative totaling $225,666. Martinez Brooks kicked back a substantial amount of those proceeds to Brashear and Bernard.
The wire fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for May 21, 2018.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacques S. Pierre and Jihee G. Suh of the Special Prosecutions Division.
Defense counsel: Paulette Pitt Esq., Woodbridge, New Jersey