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October 8, 09

NEWS / Former Treasurer for Cemetery in Chester Pleads Guilty to Stealing More than $600,000 from Cemetery

TRENTON Ė Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that the former treasurer for the Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association in Chester has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $600,000 in cemetery funds.

Jerry Smith, 68, of Sparta, pleaded guilty yesterday to an accusation charging him with second-degree misapplication of entrusted property and third-degree failure to pay New Jersey income taxes before Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto in Morris County, according to Division of Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni.

Smith was treasurer of the Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association and a member of its board of trustees for more than 20 years. As treasurer, Smith had control of Pleasant Hillís finances and bookkeeping, including custody and control of income from plot sales and burials. In February 2008, the cemeteryís superintendent found discrepancies in financial reports prepared by Smith and reported them to the board of trustees. The charges stem from a joint investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the Division of Taxation.

In pleading guilty, Smith admitted that between January 2000 and February 2008, he misappropriated $611,590 in cemetery association funds, which he used for his personal benefit. Smith further admitted that in filing joint personal income tax returns with the State of New Jersey for himself and his wife for the years 2000 through 2008, he failed to report the misappropriated funds as income, resulting in the coupleís failure to pay $26,340 in taxes owed.

Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Smith be sentenced to seven years in state prison. He must also pay restitution of $607,590 to the Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association, representing the amount stolen less $4,000 he previously repaid, and $42,021 to the Division of Taxation, representing the taxes owed plus fines and penalties. Judge Ahto scheduled sentencing for Smith for Nov. 6.




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