Disgraced councilwoman won’t go to prison for stealing $22,000
BRIDGETON — A former City Council president who was forced to resign after her arrest last year on charges of stealing from the city Housing Authority will not go to prison.
Gladys Lugardo-Hemple, 71, on Monday was accepted into the pre-trial intervention program, which allows first-time and non-violent offenders to avoid criminal convictions and prison if they stay out of trouble.
Lugardo-Hemple was a councilwoman and a housing commissioner when she was accused of cutting herself more than $22,000 in checks from the authority in May.
She was charged with third-degree theft by deception, third-degree theft by failure to make required distribution of property, third-degree misapplication of entrusted property and property of government, and third-degree theft by unlawful taking.
After her arrest, she resigned from the council and the Housing Authority.
She has since paid back the $22,031.97 that she stole, the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office said Tuesday.
As part of her PTI deal, Lugardo-Hemple will also have to resign her $31,200 job with the city school district and she will be banned from ever working a public job in the state.
She must also serve a "substantial period of community service" before the PTI period ends in three years.
Lugardo-Hemple was first elected to the City Council in 2009.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.