Ex-Employee Accused Of Stealing State Money To Pay Her Rent

TRENTON – The Division of Criminal Justice today obtained an indictment charging a former fiscal analyst for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development with stealing approximately $18,525 in state funds by issuing unauthorized government checks made payable to her landlord to pay her rent, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.

According to Taylor, the state grand jury indictment charges Sharon Caldwell, 57, of Trenton, with second-degree official misconduct and third-degree theft by deception. In her former position as a fiscal analyst for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Caldwell had responsibility for the disbursement of checks from a checking account for the state’s Disability Insurance program. The indictment alleges that she issued three checks from the account made payable to her landlord, which she provided to the landlord to pay rent she owed for her apartment on West State Street in Trenton: one check for $8,000 dated Jan. 28, 2009, one for $3,525.85 dated Aug. 15, 2009, and one for $7,000 dated July 23, 2010.

The unauthorized checks were discovered in 2010 by the Office of Internal Audit of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice.

“The public must be able to trust that state funds will be closely watched and used only for authorized purposes,” said Dow. “In this case, I commend the Department of Labor and Workforce Development for its vigilance in detecting these improper expenditures and alerting the Division of Criminal Justice. We will aggressively prosecute officials who steal public funds.”

“We guard the public’s tax dollars carefully in this administration, and my department has a zero tolerance policy regarding anyone found misappropriating that money. I have been working closely with the Office of the Attorney General to make sure that any circumstance involving the misuse of the public’s money is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Harold J. Wirths, commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The charge of second-degree official misconduct carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison, including five years of parole ineligibility, and a $150,000 fine. Third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a $15,000 fine. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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