Jersey City Rec Dept. employees charged in $80k payroll scheme suspended without pay

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The handful of Jersey City Recreation Department employees charged in an $80,000 payroll scheme by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office have been suspended without pay pending the resolution of their cases, a city official said.

Photo via Google Maps.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“We can confirm that the Jersey City Law Department is the entity that submitted the paperwork to investigate to law enforcement on this issue,” city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said in a statement.

“As we have said before, we have zero tolerance for misuse of funds and will be aggressive in eliminating anyone who tries to take advantage of the taxpayers. We have suspended all the employees involved without pay, and will wait for a resolution from the Attorney General on charges.”

Angela Rivera, 40, currently a supervisor for housing code enforcement and a former payroll clerk and senior analyst for the rec department, was charged with theft by unlawful taking, or disposition, tampering with public records or information, and forgery on December 18th, according to AG’s office spokesman Peter Aseltine.

The Jersey Journal first reported on the charges earlier this morning.

According to Aseltine, Rivera was charged with stealing $80,553 from the rec department between July 15, 2015 and February 23, 2018 by inflating the pay for five part-time employees: Alfred Coriano, Ashley N. Cuevas – Rivera’s daughter – Carlos Huertas and Gabriel Villanueva.

Those four defendants were charged with third-degree theft by taking for accepting payment for work they did not perform, authorities said.

“Rivera allegedly altered timekeeping spreadsheets to inflate hours for those employees, causing paychecks to be issued that reflected additional hours that the employees did not actually work,” Aseltine said in an email.

“A number of those paychecks were deposited into Rivera’s personal account, after she allegedly forged the employees’ signatures endorsing the checks over to her. Other paychecks were deposited into accounts controlled by the employees named on the checks.”

Mayor Steven Fulop announced in July that changes would be coming to the rec department, though some members of the city council felt the reorganization could violate state civil service laws.

Despite these concerns, a vote to repeal the reorganization failed at the October 23rd council meeting.

 

Editor’s note: This story was updated with new information.