ELIZABETH — The former treasurer of the Fanwood/Scotch Plains Recycling Association was sentenced to five years probation today for stealing $15,000 from the Association’s funds over a four-year period, according to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.
Joan Ayala, 58, who served as the Association’s treasurer on a volunteer basis for more than 15 years, was also ordered to make restitution of $34,000 as a condition of probation. That figure included the $15,000 she stole plus $19,000 the association had to remit to the New Jersey Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid payroll taxes and to hire an accountant to review her records.
The theft was discovered during the summer of 2011 after Ayala resigned her position and moved to New Hampshire. In reviewing Ayala’s records, the incoming treasurer, Edward Bumiller, discovered that between 2006 and 2010 Ayala had issued 12 checks from the Association’s bank account to herself and her husband. Bumiller and Harold Clark, the president of the Recycling Association, reported the theft to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Special Prosecutions Unit in November 2011.
On Aug. 22, Ayala entered a guilty plea to one count of third degree theft in Union County Superior Court. She claimed that she needed the money to pay her bills. Immediately following her sentencing today, Ayala made her first restitution payment of $5,000 through the Union County Probation Department’s Finance Office.