the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Jersey City NJ, Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced that a former payroll clerk for the Jersey City Department of Recreation was sentenced to prison today for stealing approximately $80,000 by fraudulently inflating payroll hours for certain relatives and associates.
Angela Rivera, 42, of Jersey City, N.J., who formerly was a payroll clerk and senior analyst for the Jersey City Department of Recreation, was sentenced to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Vincent J. Militello in Hudson County. Rivera pleaded guilty on Jan. 27, 2021 to a charge of second-degree theft by unlawful taking. She is required to pay full restitution to the city and is permanently barred from public employment.
From Dec. 31, 2016 through Feb. 23, 2018, Rivera stole $80,553 by inflating payroll hours for certain former part-time and seasonal employees who are her relatives or personal associates. She altered timekeeping spreadsheets for those employees, causing paychecks to be issued that reflected additional hours the employees did not actually work. A number of those paychecks were deposited into Rivera’s personal account after she forged the employees’ signatures to endorse the checks over to her. Others were deposited into accounts controlled by the employees named on the checks.
Deputy Attorney General Samantha Keleher prosecuted the case and represented the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) at the sentencing hearing. Rivera was charged in an investigation by attorneys and detectives in the OPIA Corruption Bureau, which began with a referral from the Jersey City Department of Recreation. When the recreation department initially learned of the alleged misconduct, they completed an internal audit and referred the matter to OPIA.
“Government officials and employees have a duty to handle public funds with honesty and integrity,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “If they breach that duty, we will hold them accountable.”
“The Office of Public Integrity and Accountability is working hard to deter this type of dishonest conduct and enforce a culture of integrity in government,” said OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher. “We urge anyone with information about official misconduct and abuse of public resources to contact us confidentially. We’ll pursue all leads to ensure that those responsible are investigated and prosecuted.”
Four relatives and associates of Rivera who allegedly took part in the scheme were charged by summons on Jan. 6, 2020 with theft by unlawful taking (3rd degree) for allegedly depositing paychecks into accounts they controlled that they knew reflected work hours that had been fraudulently inflated by Rivera. On Jan. 27, 2021, the court admitted them into the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program, subject to payment of full restitution. If those defendants successfully complete PTI, the charges against them will be dismissed.
Deputy Attorney General Keleher prosecuted the case for the OPIA Corruption Bureau under the supervision of Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione.
OPIA has a toll-free Tipline 1-844-OPIA-TIPS for the public to report corruption. The AG’s Office has an Anti-Corruption Reward Program that offers a reward of up to $25,000 for tips leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption. Information is posted here.
Defense Attorney for Rivera: Gina Mendola Longarzo, Esq., Chatham, N.J.