Ex-State Employee Pleads Guilty To Stealing $18,525 From New Jersey's DoL

                               Trenton, NJ (WorkersCompensation.com) - Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced today that a former fiscal analyst for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has pleaded guilty to stealing approximately $18,525 in state funds by issuing unauthorized government checks.

Sharon Caldwell, 58, of Trenton, pleaded guilty yesterday (Feb. 7) to third-degree theft by deception before Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Brown in Mercer County. The charge was contained in an Oct. 5, 2011 state grand jury indictment.

Judge Brown scheduled sentencing for April 18. Under the plea agreement, the Division of Criminal Justice will recommend that Caldwell be sentenced to 364 days in jail as a condition of five years of probation. Caldwell will also forfeit any future public employment and to pay full restitution.

In her former position as a fiscal analyst for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Caldwell had responsibility for the disbursement of checks from a checking account for the State's Disability Insurance program. In pleading guilty, Caldwell admitted that she issued three checks – a check for $8,000 dated Jan. 28, 2009, one for $3,525.85 dated Aug. 15, 2009, and one for $7,000 dated July 23, 2010 and converted the money for her personal use. An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice determined that Caldwell used the money for rent payments to her landlord.

The unauthorized checks were discovered in 2010 by the Office of Internal Audit of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice. Deputy Attorneys General Jim Ruberton and Valerie Noto were assigned to the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Noto represented the Division of Criminal Justice at the guilty plea hearing.

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