6 N.J. Officials Charged With Corruption

Six New Jersey state treasury workers were indicted Thursday on suspicion of accepting dinners, entertainment, golf outings and spa treatments from a company hired to collect back taxes.

The state taxation director and his deputy were among those charged, the attorney general's office said.

A state report in December found that treasury managers took more than $65,000 in gifts from Missouri-based OSI Collection Service Inc. from 1999 to 2005.

The company padded its bills by more than $1 million since 2000, but was not sanctioned by the treasury department, state investigators have said.

"New Jersey residents must be able to count on the fact that officials who make decisions on state contracts won't be subject to influence by vendors who offer generous freebies," said Attorney General Zulima Farber.

Those indicted include state Taxation Director Robert K. Thompson and his deputy, Harold A. Fox. Four other treasury workers and two former OSI officials were also indicted. They are all charged with official misconduct.

An attorney for Thompson, Eric Tunis, said that the indictment grossly inflated the supposed financial benefits received and that the allegations "attempt to criminalize what, at most, should be considered minor ethical issues."

An attorney for Fox did not immediately return phone messages.

They and one other treasury worker have been suspended with pay, said treasury spokesman Mark Perkiss. All the accused treasury employees will be suspended without pay Friday.