TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a former Paterson school district employee was convicted at trial today of official misconduct for having the school district hire her own company to organize conferences for district parents, without disclosing her financial interest in the company, and fraudulently overbilling the district by more than $190,000.
Anna N. Taliaferro, 76, formerly of Paterson and currently of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was found guilty today by a Passaic County jury of second-degree charges of official misconduct, pattern of official misconduct, misconduct by a corporate official and theft by deception. She also was found guilty of third-degree charges of tampering with public records or information and forgery. The verdict of guilty on all counts against her followed a three-month trial before Superior Court Judge Raymond A. Reddin. The charges were contained in a Dec. 13, 2010 indictment.
Deputy Attorney General Veronica Allende tried the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Judge Reddin scheduled sentencing for Taliaferro for March 14.
“This defendant tricked the school district into hiring a company in which she had a financial interest,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “She misused school resources and defrauded this Abbott district of taxpayer funds intended for programs geared toward fostering responsible parenting. This was a flagrant breach of public trust.”
“Taliaferro thought she could scam the school district by hiring her own company as if it were an independent organization and fraudulently running up the bills for these parent conferences,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work with the Department of Education and other government agencies to root out this type of corruption involving publicly funded programs.”
Prior to her retirement in 2008, Taliaferro was employed by the Paterson School District as the district-wide coordinator of the Paterson Resource Center. Her duties included organizing and managing programs for Paterson parents, including annual taxpayer-funded conferences that focused on teaching participants parenting skills.
Taliaferro also was the president of a nonprofit corporation, New Jersey Association of Parent Coordinators (NJAPC). The state’s investigation revealed that Taliaferro “outsourced” the task of organizing annual conferences for Paterson parents to NJAPC, while submitting annual ethics disclosure statements falsely certifying that she did not have any financial interest in any entity contracted by the Paterson Board of Education. Taliaferro created the false impression that NJAPC was an independent corporation.
The state presented testimony and evidence at trial that Taliaferro unlawfully ran the nonprofit on district time using Paterson School District employees and resources. She, in effect, charged the district through NJAPC for doing what the district was already paying her to do as coordinator of the Paterson Resource Center.
Taliaferro also fraudulently overbilled the Paterson School District through NJAPC. The state’s investigation revealed that she overbilled the district by, among other things, charging it for unauthorized items and services; overbilling for incidental expenses of conference participants, such as telephone charges; and failing to reimburse the district when NJAPC received large reductions in food bills at hotels where conferences were held, after the district had paid the original bills in full. The investigation revealed that Taliaferro fraudulently overbilled the district by more than $190,000 through NJAPC.
The investigation was conducted by Sgt. Warren Monroe, Sgt. James Scott, Sgt. Thomas Culp, Detective Robyn Greene, Analyst Kathleen Ratliff and retired Deputy Attorney General Richard Queen. The investigation began when the Department of Education referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Justice.