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December 4, 09

NEWS / Former Treasurer for Cemetery in Chester Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Stealing $600,000 fr

TRENTON Ė Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that the former treasurer for the Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association in Chester was sentenced to state prison today for stealing more than $600,000 in cemetery funds.

According to Division of Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni, Jerry Smith, 68, of Sparta, was sentenced to seven years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto in Morris County. Smith pleaded guilty on Oct. 6 to an accusation charging him with second-degree misapplication of entrusted property and third-degree failure to pay New Jersey income taxes.

Under the plea agreement, Smith executed consent orders to 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. The judge ordered Smith to continue to make restitution payments from his fixed income while in prison.

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 stemmed 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.

Deputy Attorney General Marysol Rosero prosecuted the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Major Crimes Bureau. The investigation was conducted and coordinated for the Division of Criminal Justice Major Crimes Bureau by Detective Kimberly Allen, Auditor Bruce Stuck of the Division of Taxation, who was sworn as a Special Detective for the Division of Criminal Justice, and Deputy Attorney General Rosero.




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