George R. Laufenberg, a former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey commissioner, pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of embezzling about $140,000 from the Northeast Carpenter’s Union’s $2 billion pension fund. he was leading.
The 72-year-old Wall resident admitted to stealing pension funds and making false statements to the US Department of Labor. He had previously entered a plea of not guilty to those counts and two others.
Federal prosecutors said Laufenberg took the funds under a deferred compensation agreement to which he was not entitled. He was the administrative director of the pension fund.
Laufenberg faces ten years in federal prison, although that is the maximum. U.S. District Court Judge Kevin McNulty will sentence him on October 6. If Laufenberg cooperates with the U.S. Attorney on another case, that date would likely be postponed.
The Regional Council of Eastern Atlantic States Carpenters fired Laufenberg in 2016. In 2018, they also fired John Ballantyne, the union’s former secretary-treasurer and political ally of Governor Phil Murphy. Ballantyne alleged he was kicked 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 position amid allegations that he didn’t actually live in the Port area – a 25-mile radius around the Statue of Liberty. Laufenberg held one of four seats that required residency in the Port District, so he used his son’s address in Hoboken and not his home in Wall. He had been appointed to this position by Governor Chris Christie.