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December 21, 09

NEWS / Former State Clerk Who Processed Claims for Unclaimed Property Sentenced for Stealing Unclaimed Fund

TRENTON - Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that a former clerk in the New Jersey Division of Taxation who processed claims for unclaimed property was sentenced today for stealing unclaimed funds in 2006.

According to Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni, Ileana Paris, 35, of Lumberton, who was a technical assistant in the Division of Taxation, was sentenced to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of a term of three years probation by Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier in Mercer County. Judge Billmeier ordered Paris to pay $2,150 in restitution. In addition, Paris was ordered to forfeit public office and was permanently barred from state employment.

Paris pleaded guilty on Oct. 9 to a charge of third-degree theft by deception. In pleading guilty, Paris admitted that she stole $2,150 by creating and approving a phony claim for unclaimed property in a friendís name. Deputy Attorney General Susan Kase prosecuted the case and represented the state at the sentencing hearing.

The charge was contained in a May 11, 2009 indictment obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Two other defendants, including another clerk who processed unclaimed property claims, were charged that day in a separate indictment. Stefan Arteaga-Pitzenbauer, 36, of Levittown, Pa., also a former technical assistant with the Division of Taxation, allegedly conspired with another man who did not work for the state, Luis Maura, 26, of Hamilton, to steal $8,584 by creating and approving payment of fraudulent claims for unclaimed property. The charges against them are pending.

The two indictments resulted from investigations conducted by the Division of Taxation, New Jersey State Police and Division of Criminal Justice.

Unclaimed property is property, excluding real estate, that has been unclaimed by its rightful owner for a period of time specified by statute. Examples include unclaimed class action proceeds, safe deposit box contents, utility deposits, money orders and travelerís checks. To claim property, an individual must file a form with the Division of Taxation to prove ownership. Technical assistants process claims and approve verified claims for payment.

The Division of Taxation Internal Security Unit initiated the investigations and referred them to the State Police Official Corruption Bureau and Division of Criminal Justice. Arteaga-Pitzenbauer and Paris were removed from their state jobs in 2008 after the alleged conduct was uncovered.

Investigator Carolyn A. Fox, Investigator Linda H. Bowker, Dennis G. Shilling, who now is Chief of Staff for the Division of Taxation, and Supervising Investigator Jack Grady conducted the investigations for the Division of Taxation Internal Security Unit. The investigations were led for the State Police Official Corruption Bureau by Detective James Sansone in the case of Arteaga-Pitzenbauer and Maura, and by Detective Sgt. Neil Hickey in the Paris case. New Jersey State Police Detective Sergeant Dave Smith assisted on the Arteaga-Pitzenbauer and Maura investigation, and Detective Mario Dirienzo assisted on the Paris investigation. Deputy Attorney General Kase and Deputy Attorney General Michael Wicke coordinated the investigations for the Division of Criminal Justice.

The indictment charging Arteaga-Pitzenbauer and Maura is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.




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