Falsified Records to Inflate LOSAP Benefits for His Family

FREEHOLD— A Howell Township volunteer firefighter was named in a nine-count indictment Monday charging him with official misconduct and multiple counts of tampering with public records and falsifying records. The charges stem from falsifying documents crediting his brothers with years of service in the state-run Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP), announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

William Donahue, 54, of Bath Place in Howell Township was named in the indictment returned by a Monmouth County grand jury Monday charging him with second degree Official Misconduct, four counts of third degree Tampering with Public Records, and four counts of fourth degree Falsifying Records. Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English released Donahue on his own recognizance Monday with the conditions he has no contact with the Freewood Acres Fire Company or with Howell Township District #5 Board of Fire Commissioners.

Donahue is a volunteer firefighter with the Freewood Acres Fire Company, as well as a member of the Howell Township Board of Fire Commissioners for District #5, which oversees the Freewood Acres Fire Company.  Donahue has been a member of that fire company since approximately 1998.  Around that same time, the Board adopted a LOSAP program.  The LOSAP program provides active emergency service organization volunteers, like volunteer firefighters, deferred compensation benefits as an incentive and reward for volunteer service to the community. Benefits increase with each year of active service in the fire company.

Donahue is responsible for annually certifying which members of the fire department qualified for a “year of service” under the LOSAP program. Members had to complete a certain percentage of activities in the fire department to qualify for a “year of service” credit, thus, increasing their LOSAP benefits.

The indictment charges William Donahue with falsely crediting his brothers Michael Donahue and John Donahue with years of service in the LOSAP program.  Michael Donahue left the Freewood Acres Fire Company and has been serving as a firefighter in Old Bridge since at least 2007.  John Donahue resigned from the fire company in July of 2011.

The indictment charges that William Donahue gave Michael Donahue years of credit from 2009 through 2014, and also gave John Donahue credit after his resignation for 2012 – 2014.

If convicted of Official Misconduct, Donahue faces a mandatory sentence of five years in a New Jersey State Prison without parole, a lifetime ban on public employment in the State of New Jersey, and forfeiture of his own LOSAP benefits.

Since Donahue was a public official and the crimes related to his office, he faces a mandatory sentence of two years in a New Jersey State Prison without parole on each of the four tampering with records counts, along with the lifetime ban and LOSAP forfeiture.  He also faces eighteen months in prison on each of the fourth-degree falsifying records charges.

In November 2012, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the leadership of Prosecutor Gramiccioni, launched a Corruption Tip Line designed to solicit the public’s assistance in identifying and targeting corruption, fraud and misconduct occurring in local governmental agencies.

Citizens may report concerns via the following: Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Corruption Tip Line – 855-7-UNJUST (855 786-5878); or E-mail at: corruption@mcponj.org write “Corruption/Misconduct Tip” in the subject line.

Investigating officers are Detective Lieutenant Teresa Wilbert of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Detective Robert Ortenzi of the Howell Police Department.

The case is being handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and State law.

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