TRENTON – A Newark woman was sentenced yesterday for assisting a former employee of the City of Newark in a conspiracy to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federally funded Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program by means of fraudulent vouchers.
Veronica Anderson, 51, of Newark, was sentenced to three years of probation by Superior Court Judge Michael A. Petrolle in Essex County. Anderson pleaded guilty on Jan. 6 to third-degree receiving stolen property. Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Monahan took the guilty plea and represented the state at the sentencing.
An ongoing investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau revealed that between Dec. 1, 2005, and Jan. 31, 2007, Charles Brown, a former senior clerk for the Newark WIC Program, and other employees of the Newark WIC Program conspired to issue more than $1 million in fake vouchers.
In pleading guilty, Anderson admitted that she assisted Brown in the distribution of fraudulent vouchers. Brown did not have a car or driver’s license, and Anderson, who did, would drive Brown to distribute the vouchers. She admitted that Brown paid her between $100 and $200 each time she drove him.
Brown, 42, of Newark, previously pleaded guilty to second-degree official misconduct for his role in the scheme and was sentenced on Feb. 23, 2009, to eight years in state prison by Petrolle. On Feb. 20, 2009, another former senior clerk in the Newark WIC Program, Wyetta Judson, 39, of Newark, pleaded guilty to second-degree official misconduct. She has not been sentenced yet. The state will recommend that she also be sentenced to state prison.
On Dec. 1, Benedicto Bernal, 31, owner of Dreamers Supermarket on 7th Ave. in Newark, pleaded guilty to first-degree money laundering before Superior Court Judge Edward M. Neafsey in Mercer County. Bernal, who was not an authorized WIC vendor, admitted that he purchased fraudulent vouchers from Brown and resold them by the stack to vendors in Essex, Camden, Union and Middlesex counties. The fraudulent vouchers were deposited into the bank accounts of more than 20 WIC-authorized vendors throughout New Jersey.
The state will recommend that Bernal be sentenced to 10 years in state prison, one-third of which would have to be served without possibility of parole.
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