A Wayne resident faces three to five years in state prison after pleading guilty Monday to stealing $20,000 in cash and engines from two vehicles seized by the county, the state’s Division of Criminal Justice announced.
Paolo “Paul” Mariano, 53, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree official misconduct in Passaic County Superior Court. Mariano, who forfeited his pension with his plea, was director of the Passaic County Garage at the time the thefts occurred.
Mariano will be permanently barred from public employment and must pay $20,000 in restitutions.
“You could call this a crime of opportunity,” Stephen Taylor, director of the Division of Criminal Justice said. “Mariano certainly seized his opportunity to behave corruptly.”
Mariano admitted that he stole about $20,000 in cash that was found inside a 2000 Ford Taurus seized during a narcotics investigation by the Passaic County Drug Task Force in 2004.
Authorities said the car was being repaired for use as an undercover vehicle in 2005 when county mechanics found the cash in a hidden compartment. The mechanics told Mariano, who took possession of the car and cash, directing them not to report anything. Mariano then had a mechanic disassemble the car.
Mariano also admitted that he directed county mechanics to remove an engine from a 1995 Toyota 4-Runner that had been seized by the county. Mariano had the mechanics place the engine into a 1993 Toyota 4-Runner that he had given to his girlfriend.
The stolen engine was in better condition than the one it replaced, authorities said. Mariano sold that vehicle, with the stolen engine, for $2,000 to an undercover detective in May 2010.
Mariano is scheduled to be sentenced April 21.