A former Jersey City Department of Recreation payroll clerk was sentenced to three years in state prison for stealing approximately $80,000 by fraudulently inflating payroll hours for certain relatives and associates.
Angela Rivera of Jersey City was sentenced by a Superior Court judge in Hudson County on Friday for the scheme. A former payroll clerk and senior analyst for the department, she will be required to pay full restitution to Jersey City and is permanently barred from public employment. She had pleaded guilty last year for second-degree theft by unlawful taking.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Rivera had stolen $80,553 from Dec. 31, 2016 through Feb. 23, 2018 by inflating payroll hours for certain former part-time and seasonal employees who were relatives or personal associates, altering the timekeeping spreadsheets for those employees and causing paychecks issued to show additional hours that they didn’t 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, while others were deposited into accounts controlled by the employees named on the checks.
“Government officials and employees have a duty to handle public funds with honesty and integrity,” said Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin in a statement. “If they breach that duty, we will hold them accountable.”
Rivera was a supervisor for the Housing Code Enforcement when she was charged by the Attorney General’s Office on Dec. 18, 2019, and was suspended without pay at the time.
Four relatives and associates of Rivera who allegedly took part in the scheme, Ashley Cuevas, Gabriel Villanueva and Carlos Huertas of Jersey City, and Alfred Coriano of Bayonne, were also charged by summons in 2020 with third degree theft by unlawful taking, for allegedly depositing paychecks into accounts they controlled that they knew reflected hours that had been fraudulently inflated by Rivera.
The four were suspended without pay in 2020 and were admitted by the court into the Pre-Trial Intervention program last year, subject to payment of the full restitution. If the defendants complete the program, the charges against them will be dropped.
A spokesperson for Jersey City did not respond for comment on the sentencing.