Senator Gopal Works to Protect New Jersey’s Non-Profits

Senator Vin Gopal introduced Monday a bill to strengthen prosecutions against individuals who steal from non-profit organizations.

The bill (S3224) establishes a presumption against admission into a pretrial intervention program for persons who commit theft against nonprofit organizations.

“Crimes committed against community-minded non-profit organizations are particularly egregious,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “Our local non-profit organizations exist solely to serve the residents of our great state and uplift some of our most vulnerable populations. When an individual steals from a non-profit, they are actually stealing from those who need the support and resources provided by these organizations the most. We cannot allow these despicable crimes to go unchecked. Individuals who steal from these vital organizations must be convicted to the fullest extent of the law in order to ensure justice has been served and deter others from committing these deplorable crimes.”

In the past several years, New Jersey has seen several cases of individuals, often employees, stealing from non-profit organizations.

In August, Peter Pflug, the former chief financial officer for New Horizons in Autism, used his organization's credit cards and checking accounts to make about $115,000 in unauthorized personal purchases. He was charged with second-degree theft by unlawful taking and misapplication of entrusted property and property of the government.

In May, Tami Richardson, the former treasurer and secretary of the now-defunct Swartswood Volunteer Fire Department, was arrested and charged with stealing more than $75,000 in funds from the department over the past several years. She is facing six charges including official misconduct, theft and forgery.

Additionally, in January of this year Samuel M. DeNorchia, who served as treasurer of the Edgewater Volunteer Fire Department, was arrested for stealing more than $40,000 from the department. Mr. DeNorchia allegedly wrote checks to himself from the Edgewater Volunteer Fire Department using its funds. The estimated $40,000 total was allegedly stolen between March 2016 and November 2017.