Prosecutors say a former Passaic County social services worker and her boyfriend stole nearly $246,000 in funds intended for the needy.

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Paterson residents Jacemia Echevarria and James Hayer are each charged with official misconduct and theft by deception in a n indictment recently handed up by a county grand jury. Echevarria also faces four counts of witness tampering.

Prosecutors say Echevarria was responsible for handling the county's temporary rental assistance program, which pays 70 percent of rent, utilities and relocation expenses for qualifying clients.

When Echevarria collected money orders from clients for the remaining 30 percent, she allegedly directed them to leave the payee line blank. Authorities say she then would divert the money into her personal account, and use public funds to cover the clients' responsibility.


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