TRENTON – A former New Jersey Turnpike toll collector was sentenced to jail today for participating in a scheme in which he and two other toll collectors stole toll money, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced. The two other men were sentenced to jail last month.
According to Taylor, John A. Filippine, 58, of Columbus, was sentenced to 364 days in the county jail and two years of probation by Superior Court Judge Jeanne T. Covert in Burlington County. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 24 to an accusation charging him with third-degree theft by unlawful taking. Filippine was charged by the Division of Criminal Justice as a result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police. The New Jersey Turnpike Authority referred the case to the State Police after uncovering suspected thefts. Filippine must pay $2,282 in restitution to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, based on the estimated amount that he stole, and he will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.
On Sept. 22, two other toll collectors, Glenn W. Huryan, 56, of Magnolia, and William L. Fagan III, 62, of Chews Landing, were sentenced to 364 days in jail and a term of probation – four years for Huryan and two years for Fagan – by Superior Court Judge Irvin J. Snyder in Camden County, after pleading guilty to third-degree theft Huryan was ordered to pay restitution of $6,000, and Fagan, $4,835. Both are permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.
The Internal Audit Department of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (“NJTA”) initially uncovered the suspected thefts as the result of an internal audit and investigation. It referred the matter to the New Jersey State Police for further investigation. The NJTA terminated the employment of the three toll collectors after they were arrested on April 5, 2011 in connection with the thefts.
Both Huryan and Filippine worked at Interchange 5 of the Turnpike, while Fagan worked at Interchange 3. In pleading guilty, Filippine, Huryan and Fagan admitted that they engaged in a scheme in which they stole toll funds from the NJTA by obtaining toll tickets from interchanges near where they worked, collecting tolls and tickets from drivers, replacing the tickets from the larger tolls paid by drivers with the tickets they had on hand from a closer interchange, remitting the lower toll to the NJTA, and keeping the difference.
For example, if a driver presented a ticket from Interchange 18W and paid the $6.95 toll at Interchange 5, Huryan would substitute a ticket he had obtained from Interchange 3 and then put the proper toll for the Interchange 3 ticket ($1.00) into the cash drawer. He would then keep the difference of $5.95 for himself. Huryan admitted that he was the individual who obtained the tickets from nearby interchanges that were used by all three of the defendants.
The NJTA became suspicious after routine auditing revealed that Huryan, Fagan and Filippine were processing an unusually large number of “excess time” tickets. Each NJTA ticket is stamped and electronically coded with the interchange or toll plaza, lane, date and time of issuance of the ticket. The NJTA’s computer system also records the interchange or toll plaza, lane, date and time of collection and payment of the ticket. An “excess time” ticket is one collected hours beyond the normal time it would take to travel from the toll plaza where it was obtained. While there are some legitimate reasons for “excess time” tickets, such as a driver taking a sleep break or a vehicle breaking down, the large number of these tickets handled by the defendants drew suspicion and caused the NJTA to commence an internal investigation. The NJTA subsequently reported the suspected thefts to the New Jersey State Police.
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