A Montclair man admitted today to conspiring with two others in a kickback scheme to defraud the owner of a condominium complex in Jersey City of $470,000.

According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, Jonathan Smith, 56, pleaded guilty in Camden federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Smith’s conspirator, Nathaniel Obedos, pleaded guilty in July and is awaiting sentencing. Ranaldo Bennett, Smith’s other conspirator, was arrested and charged for the same conduct, and his case is still pending.

In the case, Bennett and Obedos were charged with conspiring with Smith to inflate charges for repairs and maintenance at the complex and pay the excess money to Bennett and Smith as kickbacks.

Bennett was the complex’s lead property manager and Smith was its superintendent. The two allegedly steered repair and maintenance work to Obedos and his company in exchange for kickbacks from Obedos.

Prosecutors alleged that from November 2018 through October 2020, Bennett and Smith falsified invoices that “grossly inflated” the value of Obedos’s work. Relying on those fake invoices, the complex paid Obedos the inflated prices, and Obedos then used the excess money to pay Bennett and Smith kickbacks. 

In total, the complex paid Obedos and his company over $1 million for work that was actually valued at $500,000. Obedos used the overpayments to pay $460,000 in kickbacks to Bennett and over $10,700 in kickbacks to Smith.

Sellinger did not disclose the location of the condo complex.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing for Smith is scheduled for June 10, 2024.