Home>Feature>EDA SVP didn’t tell auditors about lawsuit alleging fraud

New Jersey Economic Development Authority Senior Vice President of Operations Frederick Cole.

EDA SVP didn’t tell auditors about lawsuit alleging fraud

By Nikita Biryukov, May 02 2019 2:20 pm

Frederick Cole, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s senior vice president of operations, did not notify auditors about a lawsuit filed by a former EDA employee who claimed he was fired for raising complaints about the authority approving award applications that were false or otherwise deficient.

The suit, filed by David Sucsuz on May 21, 2014, claimed EDA officials ignored evidence that a number of firms filed award applications with fictitious out-of-state locations they claimed to be considering for their business.

Sucsuz, who worked at the EDA for 12 years, lastly as an underwriter, also claimed false job figures and manipulated cost inputs were also ignored by EDA officials.

WNYC on Wednesday first reported the existence of Sucsuz’s suit.

In one instance, Sucsuz said he could not find an address for a firm claiming it was considering a move to South Carolina or North Carolina and was told he did not need one because the states were a popular destination for furniture stores.

At the time that high-level EDA officials were being deposed as part of the suit, state Comptroller Philip Degnan’s office was conducting an audit into the awards meted out by the authority.

Cole said auditors should have been made aware of the suit, adding that he did not make them aware of it because, at the time, he considered it a personnel matter not directly related to the dispensation of tax credits.

Auditors would not be aware of the fraud allegations contained in Sucsuz’s suit without having the complaint provided to them, Cole said.

He said more than once that no one pressured him to keep the suit hidden from auditors.

Sucsuz’s suit claims outside individuals frequently attempted to exert pressure on the tax credit application process.

Cole oversees the authority’s back office operations, including information technology and human resource services. He said he plays a minimal in the authority’s tax incentive programs.

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