Lyndhurst resident also served in Sheriff's Department
Frank Benedetto of Lyndhurst, whose four-decade career in Bergen County government spanned law enforcement and consumer protection, died Saturday. He was 64.
Mr. Benedetto, also a former Lyndhurst school board president, was Bergen's director of consumer affairs from 2003 through 2010, under County Executive Dennis McNerney. He was chosen for the job two years after he retired as deputy chief in the Sheriff's Department.
The law enforcement background served him well as consumer watchdog, said Vernon Cox, a senior investigator in the consumer affairs office. Cox said that under Mr. Benedetto, "we started bringing in significant fines for consumer fraud violations," including nearly $100,000 in 2008 alone.
County Director of Public Safety Brian Higgins, who oversees a consumer affairs office that has been downsized since 2011, added that during Mr. Benedetto's eight years in charge, the office won about $1 million in consumer restitution through the courts and mediation.
"Frank always put the consumer first, while balancing his responsibilities with the business community," said Higgins, also chief of the county police. "He took personally his job of standing up for those who were defrauded."
Mr. Benedetto often spoke before county residents, especially seniors, on how to avoid becoming scam victims. Public education was "a very important part of his agenda," The Record's consumer columnist, Kevin DeMarrais, noted.
Three years ago, Mr. Benedetto addressed 100 seniors at a consumer fraud seminar in Garfield. Beware of the home repair contractor knocking on your door, he told his audience.
"He's going to tell you you need a steel liner for that chimney," Mr. Benedetto said. "He's going to tell you you need a carbon monoxide program. Don't do business with someone who finds you. Do business with someone you find."
Mr. Benedetto is survived by his wife, Linda; his children, Dawn Failace, Diane Gress and Dr. Frank Benedetto; his sisters, Cecilia Biddescomb, Angela Pfeifer and Frances Benedetto; and five grandchildren.
The funeral Mass will be today at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Mount Carmel R.C. Church, Lyndhurst. Nazare Memorial Home, Lyndhurst, is in charge of arrangements.
Nazare Memorial Home, Inc.
403 Ridge Road Lyndhurst, NJ 07071