EAST HAVEN - An East Haven Planning and Zoning official was arrested by the FBI Wednesday morning at his home.
Frank Biancur Jr., 40, of West Haven, was arrested by the FBI with assistance from the East Haven Police Department on a federal criminal complaint charging him with seeking and receiving illegal payments while employed as zoning enforcement officer for the town of East Haven.
Earlier this month, a resident of East Haven contacted the East Haven Police Department and the FBI with information that they had been extorted by Biancur since approximately October 2012 and, as a result, had made cash payments to Biancur. He’s accused of keeping those payments, which he should have never charged the victim for.
The complaint alleges that the victim had paid Biancur cash for several reasons, including a fine for trash on a lot adjacent to his or her home and permits to build a deck addition onto the home. Most recently, on May 19, Biancur called the victim and informed him or her that he had to inspect an addition to the victim’s residence.
Although he stated that he was “fighting” for the victim, he also demanded a payment of $200 or he would make the victim tear down the addition.
On May 21, the victim engaged in a consensually-recorded meeting with Biancur at Biancur’s office in East Haven Town Hall. During the meeting, the victim gave Biancur $200 in cash, which he pocketed.
The complaint charges Biancur with one count of theft of honest services mail fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
Biancur appeared in New Haven Federal Court Wednesday and was released on $20,000 bond.
East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"As I indicated earlier, I am saddened by the charges that were unsealed today regarding East Haven’s Zoning Enforcement Officer Frank Biancur. I want to assure residents that while this is certainly discouraging, we will take all appropriate steps to ensure that this development will in no way disrupt the Zoning Department or that department’s daily business.
As to the inquiries today about Mr. Biancur’s present employment status, I can only comment that insofar as this involves Town business it is a personnel matter and will be addressed accordingly by Frank Gentilesco, Jr., the Town’s Assistant Director of Administration and Management.
With respect to this investigation, these allegations were brought to my attention just last week when I received a call at home from a Town employee about the matter. Immediately after fielding the call, I moved swiftly to alert our Police Chief and Federal authorities so that the allegations could be investigated. Since that time, we have cooperated and continue to cooperate in the government’s investigation.
Finally, I want to emphasize that the charges unsealed today are simply allegations and Mr. Biancur is entitled to the presumption of innocence guaranteed to him under the laws of this country. However, I also want to make it clear that this administration will not tolerate public corruption of any kind and will pursue all appropriate measures to investigate and prevent it now and in the future."
Prior to his employment by the Town of East Haven, Biancur was employed by the City of West Haven and the City of Bridgeport.
Citizens with information that may be helpful to this ongoing investigation are encouraged to contact the FBI at (203) 777-6311.