Banker Guilty of Lying to SBA

A former chief lending officer of First Choice Bank (U.S. 1, April 4, 2007) has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Small Business Administration to secure a loan. Prosecutors said he gave false information about the creditworthiness of the loans.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement that James Bortolotti, 51, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp in Trenton federal court to one count of knowingly making false statements for the purpose of influencing the action of the SBA.

According to Carpenito, while serving as the chief lending officer of the bank, which prosecutors did not identify in the press release, Bortolotti became aware of a Small Business Administration lending program to incentivize lenders, including banks, to loan money to small businesses by providing a 75 percent SBA-backed guarantee on loans. When a lender applies an SBA guarantee on a loan, the lender must disclose information related to the creditworthiness of the small business. Prosecutors said the bank hired a consulting firm to help the bank apply for SBA-backed guarantees.

Prosecutors said that in 2012, a consultant from the firm submitted an application to the SBA for a guarantee of approximately $3.75 million on loans totaling approximately $5 million made to a small business located in Robbinsville. The application contained false information related to the creditworthiness of the business. Bortolotti knew the application contained false information but reviewed and signed the application on behalf of the bank, prosecutors said.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 16, 2020.

First Choice Bank, 669 Whitehead Road, Lawrenceville 08648. 609-989-9000. www.firstchoice-bank.com.

Acquisitions

A private equity firm, ACON Investments of Washington, has acquired Pine Environmental Services of Windsor. Pine is said to be the largest independent provider of environmental test and measurement equipment solutions in North America. As part of the transaction, the management team of Pine will be significant shareholders alongside ACON.

“We are delighted to be partnering with ACON to leverage their networks across our markets and beyond to help drive Pine’s growth,” said Greg Rzonca, CEO of Pine.

“Pine’s national footprint, broadest EHS equipment offering, value-added services, and strategic focus has made it the market leader in its industry. We are excited to partner with the Pine management team to accelerate future growth both organically and through accretive acquisitions,” said Mo Bawa, partner at ACON.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Pine rents environmental test and measurement equipment, non-destructive testing equipment, and continuous emission stack testing equipment from 38 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

Pine Environmental Services Inc., 92 North Main Street, Windsor Industrial Park, Building 20, Windsor 08561. 609-371-9663. www.pine-environmental.com.

Systech International, a Cranbury-based maker of packaging for pharmaceutical companies, has agreed to be acquired by Illinois-based Dover Corporation. Dover is a global manufacturer of equipment and components, specialty systems, consumable supplies, software, and support services.

Systech will become part of Dover’s Markem-Imaje unit, which is in the product identification and traceability business.

Systech specializes in anti-counterfeiting packaging used in pharmaceutical products and is expanding to cosmetics, wine and spirits, and medical devices.

“Integration with Markem-Imaje will boost Systech’s R&D capabilities and support our ambitious technological innovation agenda. The acquisition will also enhance implementation scale, accelerate innovation and help to better serve both our global client base and our partners,” said Ara Ohanian, Systech’s CEO.

“Our solutions are complementary, and the combined offerings will strengthen our brand promise of delivering authentic, safe, and connected products across the supply chain, from manufacturing to the consumer’s hands.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Systech International, 2540 Route 130, Cranbury Campus, Suite 128, Cranbury 08512. 609-395-8400. Ara Ohanian, CEO. www.systech-tips.com.

Management Moves

Vyome Therapeutics, 100 Overlook Center, 2nd Floor, Princeton 08540. 973-832-8147. Venkateswarlu Nelabhotla, CEO. vyometx.com.

Vyome Therapeutics, a Princeton-based biotech company developing therapies for inflammatory diseases, has appointed Craig Tooman as COO and CFO.

“It is with great pleasure and excitement that we welcome Craig to the Vyome team,” Venkat Nelabhotla, CEO and president of Vyome Therapeutics, said in a statement. “Craig is a seasoned industry executive with many years of experience as a biopharma CFO, during which he created and built companies and led the raise of over $5.5 billion in capital. This wealth of experience building life sciences companies and leading successful financing initiatives, including IPOs and mergers and acquisitions, will prove to be invaluable.”

Before joining Vyome, Tooman was CEO of Aratana Therapeutics, a pet medicine company. He also founded cancer drug company Avanzare Medical and was an executive at several other drug companies in the course of a 25-year career.

“Vyome’s locally acting, next generation drug candidates represent an exciting and promising new approach to treating inflammation-driven diseases of unmet need,” Tooman said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside the exceptional leadership team at Vyome, as well as help shape the company’s strategy as it continues improving current standards of care for inflammatory diseases.”

Program Expansion

New Jersey Economic Development Authority , 36 West State Street, Box 990, Trenton 08625. 609-858-6700. Tim Sullivan, CEO. www.njeda.com.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has expanded its Angel Investor Tax Credit Program effective January 1.

The program offers a refundable tax credit against New Jersey corporation business or gross income tax for qualified investments in an emerging technology or life sciences business with a physical presence in New Jersey that conducts research, manufacturing, or technology commercialization in the state. Businesses must have fewer than 225 employees to participate in the program, and at least three-quarters of those employees must work in New Jersey. The program began in 2013.

“Increasing the benefit investors receive for injecting capital into young companies is an important step in positioning New Jersey as a leader in innovation,” Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement.

Over the summer Murphy signed legislation expanding the program. Changes to the program include an increase in the tax credit from 10 percent to 20 percent of a qualified investment, with an additional five percent bonus available for investments in a business located in a qualified opportunity zone, low-income community, or a business that is certified by the state as minority- or women-owned.

More information can be found at www.njeda.com/angeltaxcredit.

Deaths

George F. Mason Sr., 80, on December 19. He was the owner/operator of George Mason Building Contractors in Trenton.

Neil Pirozzi, 87, on December 20. He developed residential and commercial real estate, such as Langtree Estates.

Annabelle Joy Block Temkin, 90, on December 25. She and her husband, Abraham, were the proprietors of M. Temkin Store Fixtures, a restaurant supply business on South Broad Street in Trenton.

Paul Vincent Walker, 66, on December 16. He owned and operated USB Merchant Services in Hamilton.

Daniel A. Harris, 77, on December 26. He was a professor emeritus of English and Jewish studies at Rutgers and published three volumes of poetry.

Donald C. Thiel, 96, on December 31. He taught in the Princeton Regional Schools for 35 years and was technical director at the Lawrenceville School’s Periwig Club. He was also a long-time volunteer firefighter in Princeton and Montgomery.

Hon. Mark E. Litowitz, 90, on January 9. Over his long legal career he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Trenton. In 1967 he became a judge of worker’s compensation, eventually becoming the Chief Judge of Compensation for the state for more than 20 years. In 1990 he was appointed director of the state Department of Workers’ Compensation. After retiring he joined the law firm Hill Wallack in Princeton.

Robin Hugh Cunningham, 77, on December 28. He worked in finance and investing for a time before retiring from corporate life to begin a second career as an entrepreneur, where he helped found several start-ups. Diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 13, he began a career in advocacy for the mentally ill in 2000. He was a national trainer for NAMI’s In Our Own Voice program, wrote a series of blogs for about living with mental illness, and gave numerous interviews and presentations on the subject. He also co-founded Cure Alliance for Mental Illness, a social activist network for mental illness research. In 2016, he created Sphere Initiative and Sphere First to improve experiential health through research and innovation.

Gaetano Martorana, 85, on January 6. He was the co-owner and operator of Brothers Deli in Ewing, retiring in 2010 after 22 years.

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