A Long Beach firefighter was indicted Friday on grand larceny and identity theft charges for allegedly using a false identity to install city maintenance equipment and underbid competitive contractors.
Jay Gusler, 52, was arrested Friday after surrendering to officials with the Nassau County district attorney's office. The grand jury indictment includes felony charges for grand larceny, identity theft, forgery and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. Gusler also faces misdemeanor identity theft, forgery and criminal impersonation charges.
He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Friday and was released on his own recognizance. If convicted, Gusler could face 2 to 7 years in prison.
Gusler was a frequent critic of the city, and at Tuesday's City Council meeting he spoke out against the city's plans to lay off five professional firefighters. He also questioned the city's finances when facing mounting lawsuits and legal settlements.
Prosecutors said Gusler submitted a bid to replace the Long Beach Recreation Center's boiler in May 2013. His $11,400 bid was lowest and was submitted under the name of a licensed plumbing company in Long Beach without its permission. Gusler, not a licensed plumber, then submitted invoices under his own now-defunct company, SnapDeck Construction. The city canceled another pending purchase with an Atlantic Beach company, which was first awarded the job for $1,000 more than Gusler's bid.
Gusler installed the boiler on Aug. 19, 2013. He received the city's check about two weeks later. After the boiler was installed, city officials said it was riddled with problems and had to be repaired at an additional cost of about $7,000, prosecutors said.
The city submitted the invoice to the district attorney's public corruption bureau to investigate.
The city suspended Gusler without pay Friday and is exploring additional administrative action, City Manager Jack Schnirman said.
"This continues this administration's zero [tolerance] policy for individuals who attempt to scam Long Beach taxpayers -- employees or otherwise," Schnirman said.Gusler is set to return to Nassau County Supreme Court on Feb. 23. His attorney, Joseph LoPiccolo of Manhattan, did not return a telephone call for comment.
With William Murphy