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Former Assembly Minority Leader Paul DiGaetano. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Former DiGaetano aide charged with bribery

By Nikita Biryukov, January 13 2021 11:22 am

A former top aide to former Assembly Minority Leader Paul DiGaetano is facing bribery charges after allegedly paying senior Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission official $1,200 to advance his career.

Omid Bayati, a PVSC employee, faces one count each of bribery in official and political matters and unlawful benefit to public servant for official behavior. The charges each carry prison sentences of between five and 10 years, along with fines of up to $150,000.

Bayati allegedly paid a senior PVSC official $1,200 via check from the PVSC PAC, a group with no affiliation to the commission, which regulates and manages wastewater disposal along the Passaic Valley River Basin.

The state is represented by Deputy Attorney General Samantha Keleher and law clerk Samantha Thoma from the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.

Bayati sued the Bergen County Sheriff’s office, for which he was finance director, and then-Sheriff Michael Saudino, claiming he was fired after uncovering misuses of public funds carried out by a former IT director. The suit was dismissed after the parties reached a settlement, the terms of which have not been made public.

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