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George R. Laufenberg. (Photo: George Laufenberg).

Laufenberg admits he bilked union pension fund

Former Port Authority commissioner pleads guilty to embezzling from Carpenter’s union

By David Wildstein, June 03 2022 7:50 pm

George R. Laufenberg, a former commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleaded guilty on Friday to charges that he embezzled about $140,000 from the $2 billion Northeast Carpenter’s Union Pension Fund he ran.

The 72-year-old Wall resident admitted to stealing the pension funds and to making false statements to the U.S. Department of Labor.  He had previously entered a not guilty plea on these counts and two others.

Federal prosecutors said that Laufenberg took the funds under a deferred compensation agreement that he was not entitled to.  He was the administrative manager of the pension fund.

Laufenberg faces ten years in a federal prison, although that is the maximum.  U.S. District Court Judge Kevin McNulty will sentence him on October 6.  If Laufenberg is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney on another matter, that date would likely be postponed.

The Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters fired Laufenberg in 2016.  In 2018, they also terminated John Ballantyne, the former secretary-treasurer of the union and a political ally of Gov. Phil Murphy.  Ballantyne alleged that he was forced out after emerging as a critic of Laufenberg.

Later, the carpenters restructured their union to purge other Ballantyne allies.

In 2017, Laufenberg resigned from the Porth Authority post amid allegations that he did not actually live in the port district — a 25-mile radius around the Statue of Liberty.  Laufenberg held one of the four seats that required port district residency, so he used his son’s address in Hoboken and not his home in Wall.   He had been named to the post by Gov. Chris Christie.

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