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JCP&L employee pleads guilty to 11.5M stolen from rebate program

By Brandigal (Donna)     Feb 7, 2007 in Crime
A NewJersey JCP&L employee admitted yesterday that he pocketed about $3.7 million through a plan that drained $11.5 million from an energy rebate program funded by customers of the state's electric and natural gas companies.
Harold Stamateris,46, pleaded guilty to 1st degree conspiracy to commit money laundering and theft. He was the supervisor of the New Jersey SmartStart Buildings Program. He is now facing 10 to 20 years in prison. He started the theft back in 2001. Arant Patel,45,and William Eaton Jr., 56 both were involved in the scheme and all received the same cut of the money. William Eaton Jr., 56 was released on bail last week and committed suicide.
Stamateris has agreed to pay back 2.2 million at his sentencing. He had invested the money he stole into a company he set up. More than a dozen contractors were involved in the scheme of submitting false claims.
The New Jersey SmartStart Buildings Program is managed by the state's seven electric and natural gas utilities, which charge their customers a fee to fund it. It provides financial incentives for businesses, schools and government entities to switch to energy- efficient equipment for lighting and heating and cooling systems in existing buildings, and to install them in new buildings.
Some of the false claims were:
Eatons company was issued a rebate cheque by First Energy for $109,000 for work Eaton claimed was done at Costco. Work that was never done. Eaton also put in a claim for $500.000 for fixtures for schools. The actual amount was $209,000 so the rest was pocketed.
The Attorney General wants prison time for both Stamateris and Patel. Girish Patel, 50, brother of Patel agreed to cooperate with the prosecution of his brother and he will probably get probation for his part in the crime. He was one of the other contractors involved.
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