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Saga Of Bergen-Hudson Scrap Metal Company That Conned Customers Out Of Millions Closes

Cinelli Iron & Metal
Cinelli Iron & Metal Photo Credit: Cinelli Iron & Metal

After two years, four guilty pleas and several years worth of combined sentences, a massive federal case ended quietly Wednesday against a North Jersey scrap metal company that conned customers of several million dollars over nearly two decades.

David Bartek, 55, of Wood Ridge, became the only convict to not get any federal prison time when he was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Newark to eight months home confinement and five years of supervised release.

The government’s case against Cinelli Iron & Metal Co. (CIMCO) publicly began when with Bartek, the company’s former CFO, pleaded guilty in federal court in July 2017 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

A week later, brothers Craig and Joseph Cinelli were named in an indictment that outlined a 17-year history of defrauding customers.

Joseph Cinelli Sr. of Montvale, CIMCO’s 62-year-old majority owner, died a year ago, after which the government dismissed its charges against him.

The other defendants all pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark in exchange for sentencing leniency:

  • Minority owner Craig Cinelli, 49, of Allendale, was sentenced last week to 33 months in federal prison;
  • Michael Valenti III, the company’s 45-year-old former senior vice president of sales from Hasbrouck Heights, was sentenced earlier this week to 30 months in federal prison;
  • Frank Aiello, 54, a former national demolition company senior vice president from Wyckoff, was sentenced last month to six months in federal prison and six months of home confinement.

Because there's no parole in the federal prison system, the three men who were incarcerated must serve out their sentences unless health reasons interfere.

All that's left is for U.S. District Court Judge Susan Wigenton to determine how much restitution each should pay.

CIMCO, which was headquartered in Secaucus and operated in Hackensack, operated three recycling facilities in New Jersey. The company bought scrap metal for resale based on the type and net weight.

From 1999 through March of 2016, the Cinellis and others who included Barteck and Valenti bought scrap from customers for less than they should have.

They admitted in court that they did this by:

  • altering documents to reflect a lower weight;
  • removing scrap metal from a haul before it was weighed;
  • misrepresenting the types of scrap metal contained in a haul.

They said they then resold it at a profit.

All told, victims were bilked out of more than $9.5 million, the defendants agreed.

Aiello, meanwhile, admitted taking $341,052 in payoffs from the Cinellis.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General; special agents with the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General; and special agents of the FBI with the investigation leading to the guilty plea, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Shapiro of Carpenito's Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

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