Couple stole $300,000 meant for disabled NJ residents, cops say
Authorities say a state employee and her husband stole nearly $300,000 that should have gone to disabled residents — submitting phony bills and keeping the money for themselves over the course of nearly a decade.
Suzanne Eyman, 43, of Bordentown — a suspended head bookkeper for the Division of Developmental Disabilities — and her husband, Stephen Muller, 49, have each been charged with second-degree theft by deception.
The DDD contracts with vendors who provide care to disabled individuals. As head bookkeeper, Eyman was responsible for collecting the invoices and supporting documents submitted by vendors and entering the information into a computer database to electronically submit the vouchers to Treasury for payment, the state Office of the Attorney General said.
In August 2006, Eyman allegedly established an individual named “Suzanne Muller” as a purported vendor for the DDD, using her husband’s Social Security number.
Over the course of the next nine years, Eyman allegedly submitted false vouchers from the DDD for Suzanne Muller that caused the state Treasury department to issue more than 100 checks and payments totaling $296,216, which were either mailed to an address used by the the couple or directly deposited into their personal bank accounts, the office said.
From November 2012 through December 2014, 86 checks totaling $134,895 allegedly were directly deposited into a personal bank account of Stephen Muller.
After every direct deposit, Stephen Muller allegedly wrote a check to Eyman or transferred funds electronically to her bank account.
The Attorney General's office said. frequently, the amount transferred to Eyman was less than the amount deposited into Muller’s account. Muller allegedly retained control of $30,135 over that two-year period.
“Rather than honorably fulfilling her duties, which involved her in the financial aspects of the state’s compassionate efforts to assist disabled individuals and their families, Eyman allegedly saw those efforts as an opportunity to steal,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said in an announcement of the charges. “We allege that by stealing nearly $300,000, along with her husband, she selfishly put her own interests ahead of the interests of some of the state’s most vulnerable residents.”
“The taxpayers of New Jersey cannot afford to pay the bill for public employees who break the law and steal government funds,” Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice said in the announcement. “This is an especially egregious case of public corruption, both because of the amount of money allegedly stolen and the manner in which Eyman is alleged to have shamelessly exploited her critical role in the billing process for services for people with disabilities.”
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.