Former Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association Treasurer Gets 7 Years

December 7, 2009
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imageThe former treasurer for the Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association in Chester was sentenced to state prison Friday for stealing more than $600,000 in cemetery funds, state Attorney General Anne Milgram said.

Jerry Smith, 68, of Sparta, was sentenced to seven years by state Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto in Morristown. Smith pleaded guilty on Oct. 6 to charges of misapplication of entrusted property and failure to pay New Jersey income taxes.

Under the plea agreement, Smith consented to pay restitution of $607,590 to the Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association in Chester, 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.

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Smith was treasurer of the cemetery association and a member of its board of trustees for more than 20 years. As treasurer, Smith had control of Pleasant Hill’s finances and bookkeeping, including custody and control of income from plot sales and burials. In February 2008, the cemetery’s 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 state Division of Criminal Justice and the state Division of Taxation.

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

Deputy Attorney General Marysol Rosero prosecuted the case. The investigation was conducted and coordinated for the Division of Criminal Justice Major Crimes Bureau by Det. 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.

Source: TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

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