South River Parks Director Admits Theft

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SOUTH RIVER—The South River parks and recreation director pleaded guilty today to a theft count, admitting she paid her daughter $696 for work that was never performed for the borough, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced.

Karen Cuomo, 52, of South River admitted a third degree count of theft by deception, and said her daughter was at Rowan University when some of the payments were made between September 2007, and July 2009.

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In addition, the daughter, Tracey Cuomo, 23, also of South River, will apply for admission into a pretrial probationary program known as PTI. The daughter currently is facing charges of theft and conspiring to commit theft.

Under a plea agreement negotiated with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Manuel Sameiro, Karen Cuomo faces a term of 364 days at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center.

As part of the agreement, she must forfeit her job, will never again be permitted to hold a public job and must repay the borough $696.
She is scheduled to be sentenced by Superior Court Judge Frederick P. DeVesa at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick on March 8.

The mother and daughter were charged on October 8, 2009, after Detective Robert Macloskey of the South River Police Department and Sgt. Pamela Jeffrey of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that the daughter claimed she worked for parks and recreation on various dates and collected pay when she was not actually working.

The investigation further determined that Karen Cuomo, who worked as Tracey Cuomo’s supervisor, approved and submitted documents for the uncompleted work.

Karen Cuomo, who served as the borough’s director of parks and recreation, was suspended without pay after she was charged. She began working for the borough on June 6, 1998.

Tracey Cuomo was dismissed from her job on Aug. 12, 2009. She began working for parks and recreation on October 10, 2000, as a part-time employee and was earning $8 per hour.

Officials noted that as is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Tracey Cuomo are merely accusations and she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


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