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October 12, 10

NEWS / Fourth Former Local Administrator of NJ Home Energy Assistance Program Charged With Defrauding Progr

Man charged with $9,062 theft in ongoing investigations of fraud in program

TRENTON Ė Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that an Atlantic City man who formerly worked as a local administrator of the New Jersey Home Energy Assistance (HEA) Program has been indicted on charges he stole $9,062 from the program by filing fraudulent applications to obtain benefits.

Three women who were local administrators of the HEA Program were previously charged with fraud involving the program as a result of investigations by the Division of Criminal Justice, conducted with assistance from the Department of Community Affairs. Those three women worked for Tri-County Community Action, the local agency handling HEA applications in Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland Counties. Two pleaded guilty to official misconduct, with one sentenced to five years in prison and the other also facing prison when she is sentenced. The charges are pending against the third woman. In addition, a man who owns a heating oil supply company in Paulsboro was sentenced to four years in prison.

According to Director Taylor, Marvin Laws, 55, of Atlantic City, was charged Friday, Oct. 8, in a state grand jury indictment with official misconduct (2nd degree), theft by deception (3rd degree), misapplication of entrusted property and property of government (3rd degree), tampering with public records or information (3rd degree), and falsifying records (4th degree).

Laws was employed as an HEA benefits manager by Atlantic Human Resources, a nonprofit contracted by the DCA to administer the HEA program in Atlantic County. The indictment alleges that between August 2003 and May 2008, while employed as an HEA benefits manager, Laws used his position to enter or have others enter false application information into the HEA database in order to unlawfully qualify for and obtain $9,062 in HEA benefits. The investigation revealed that his annual income was reported in the database as $15,600 for each year from 2003 to 2008, so that he could qualify for benefits, when his documented income, in fact, ranged from $43,663 to $79,417. Laws also worked part-time for the City of Pleasantville during that period.

Deputy Attorney General David M. Fritch presented the case to the state grand jury. The investigation was conducted and coordinated for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau by Lt. Keith Lerner, Sgt. Robert Ferriozzi, Detective Andrea Salvatini, Detective Anthony Luyber, Deputy Chief of Detectives Neal Cohen, Analyst Alison Callery and Deputy Attorneys General Fritch and Robert Czepiel.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Gloucester County, where the defendant will be ordered to appear in court at a later date to answer the charges. The indictment is posted with this release at www.njpublicsafety.com.

Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine, while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Fourth-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The HEA Program is administered by the Department of Community Affairs and local agencies contracted by the DCA. The HEA Program encompasses two separate programs, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Universal Service Fund Program (USF). The LIHEAP program provides direct financial assistance to beneficiaries in the form of payments to utility companies and to fuel vendors to help low-income households meet the cost of home heating and medically necessary cooling. The USF program assists such households by providing credits against their natural gas and electric bills. It is alleged that Laws fraudulently obtained benefits under both programs.


Tags: public records, public record, document,


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