Today, former New Jersey Assemblyman Albert Coutinho was sentenced to three years probation for stealing funds from his family’s charitable foundation and filing false financial disclosure forms with the Legislature. The announcement comes from acting State Attorney General John Hoffman.

Albert Coutinho (NJ Office of the Attorney General)

The 44-year-old former Assemblyman who represented Essex County pleaded guilty on Sept. 12 to a third-degree charge of theft by unlawful taking and a fourth-degree charge of falsifying or tampering with records. The day before his plea, Coutinho resigned from his 29th Legislative District Assembly seat.

“Citizens rightly demand a high standard of integrity from their elected representatives and other government officials who are entrusted with managing public funds and resources,” says Hoffman. “Mr. Coutinho fell short of that standard by misappropriating funds from a charity and failing to meet his financial disclosure obligations as a legislator.  He will pay the just consequences.”

The investigation reveals that between Jan. 2008 and Dec. 2012, Coutinho personally cashed numerous checks, representing approximately $32,500 in donations and contributions to the family’s foundation, at a check cashing business. Coutinho admits he used those donations for his own personal benefit and for purposes unrelated to any legitimate, Foundation-related business.

As a result of his guilty plea, Coutinho is permanently barred from holding public office or public employment in New Jersey.

“When a public official engages in criminal conduct involving dishonesty, as Mr. Coutinho did, the law rightly demands that he forfeit his public office,” says Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Any official who commits such a crime does so at the peril of the criminal law and of his career in public office.”