News Feature | December 29, 2016

New Jersey Water Utility Under Investigation By Police

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

A New Brunswick, NJ, police captain revealed last week that the police department is investigating the city’s water utility.

The news comes after police officers “seized a water meter given to a local reporter, who is writing an article about alleged corruption at the New Brunswick Water Utility. The reporter says the water meter was given to him by a source and proves the corruption; the city says it's stolen city property and may be integral to their own investigation,” New Brunswick Patch reported.

A source had given the water meter to New Brunswick Today, according to the media outlet. Police came to the news office with a warrant to take away the water meter. “The shocking seizure on December 20 came as concerns over the safety, quality and even the color of the city's drinking water persist among the city's residents, workers, and visitors,” the report said.

New Brunswick Police Captain Joseph Miller told NBC 4 New York that his department “is currently among several agencies conducting a criminal investigation into the utility,” the outlet reported.

"A criminal investigation kind of outweighs [a newspaper's investigation]," Miller said, per the report.

The investigation also follows reports of a bribery scandal at the same utility. A pair of water utility workers from New Brunswick were arrested this month after allegedly tampering with public records and accepting money from a customer in exchange for reduced water and sewer bills.

“The new details in the case emerged in a criminal complaint provided by the state Attorney General's office in the arrests of William Ortiz, a 55-year-old city water meter reader from North Brunswick, and Joseph DeBonis, a 54-year-old Toms River man, a water meter reader and senior account clerk at the department,” NJ Advance Media reported.

The city has had four water directors in three years, New Brunswick Today reported, and New Jersey is suffering sustained drought conditions.

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