The former executive director of the Jersey City Head Start Program, which provided early development services for underprivileged children, has been charged with stealing $200,000 from the agency and then purchasing a Maserati with the stolen funds, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Robert E. Mays, 38, of Jersey City, was arrested yesterday morning by federal agents and charged with one count of embezzlement and theft from the Jersey City Childhood Development Centers Inc., which oversaw the Head Start program at the time.
Mays appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark’s U.S. District Court.
Mays was the executive director of JCCDC from Sept. 10, 2013, to May 21, 2014 and the JCCDC received $8,020,919 in funds from the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for the benefit of the children who attended the child development programs that were managed by JCCDC.
Furthermore, Mays was not authorized to use JCCDC funds solely for his personal benefit.
Yet, he allegedly engaged in a scheme to steal more than $200,000 from JCCDC, principally by unilaterally increasing his annual salary from $96,500 to $155,000 – without authorization from JCCDC after two months of his employment with JCCDC.
Additionally, he is accused of withdrawing funds from JCCDC bank accounts for his personal benefit without authorization from JCCDC.
On top of that, Mays allegedly took JCCDC funds intended to benefit children to purchase, among other things, a 2007 Maserati Quattroporte and a fur coat worth thousands of dollars, authorities said.
The embezzlement count carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the scheme, as well as mandatory restitution in the full amount of the loss to JCCDC.
Mays is represented by Alex Booth, Jr. of Union City.
One month ago, Hudson County View exclusively reported that the FBI was investigating whether or not Head Start funds had been misappropriated, with May’s apartment being searched by the feds on September 11.
Mays is also a former dean of students at Snyder High School, where he was terminated for excessive absences and tardiness, recently served as the campaign treasurer for Bruce Alston during his run for the state Assembly in the 31st Legislative District.
Alston cut ties with Mays after he was arrested on domestic violence charges.