2 get prison terms for taking bribes to lower water bills

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Two former employees of New Brunswick's water department have been sentenced to five years in prison for taking bribes in exchange for lowering water and sewer bills.

Joseph DeBonis and William Ortiz illegally reduced bills for about 50 different properties in return for bribes totaling about $20,000.

The 56-year-old DeBonis, of Toms River, was a senior account clerk. Ortiz, 57, of North Brunswick, was a meter reader.

The state attorney general's office says Ortiz solicited bribes from customers and arranged for bill reductions through DeBonis, who had access to the city's water and sewer database.

Some of the bills were reduced by as much as 90 percent.

Both men forfeited their pensions and are barred from future public employment.

The scheme cost the city of New Brunswick about $500,000.