Former north Jersey Assemblyman gets 8 years in prison for bad business deals
WASHINGTON (Bergen) — A former state assemblyman who spent four years in Trenton will spend eight years in state prison after being convicted in a scheme where he stole nearly $2 million from lenders and wrote more than $3 million worth of bad checks.
Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced the sentence for Robert Schroeder, from Washington Township, who must also repay full restitution in the amount of $5,318,150 to his victims.
Porrino said the money Schroeder stole came in the form of loans from people for a business venture in North Dakota. The bad checks, of which Porrino said there were at least 47, were written to creditors to pay for goods or repay loans to his various businesses. That included All Points International Distributors Inc., which provided tents and prefabricated buildings to the military.
"As Schroeder's business ventures failed, he solicited creditors to prop him up financially, lying to them about how their funds would be used and his ability to repay them," Porrino said. "He built a house of cards on his status as an elected official and then let his creditors suffer the losses when it all came crashing down."
During his two terms in the Assembly from 2010-2014, he served as the deputy Republican whip while representing the 39th district, which includes parts of Bergen and Passaic Counties. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for governor in 2005.
Schroeder's financial troubles started in October, of 2009 and went through August of 2012 as there were fewer government contracts to fill, according to Porrino. In January of 2012 he established Hercules Global Logistics, which, Porrino said, he developed to provide both temporary and permanent housing, as well as other services for a base camp at a North Dakota oil drilling project. The attorney general said instead the money raised was used for his own expenses and to pay off other debts.
"Schroeder's creditors trusted him because he was a prominent public figure and because he promised them big returns, but instead he deliberately deceived them and stole over $5 million," said Elie Honig, director of the Division of Criminal Justice.
In August of 2012 Schroeder was charged with passing bad checks. The sentence comes after Schroeder pleaded guilty in October to second-degree misconduct by a corporate official. Four corporate defendants also pleaded guilty to second-degree issuing bad checks.
Porrino said Schroeder and the other defendants are jointly responsible for paying the total restitution amount. In addition to the prison time and restitution Schroeder is also barred from public office and employment by the State.
"Schroeder's descent from a respectable assemblyman to a convicted criminal was the result of choosing to lie, deceive, and steal as a way to save his struggling companies," Col. Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police said. "The eight-year prison sentence and permanent ban from public office and public employment in the State sends a clear message that we will not tolerate corruption in New Jersey."
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com