|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a former Paterson school district employee was sentenced to prison today 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 sentenced to five years in state prison without possibility of parole by Superior Court Judge Raymond A. Reddin. Judge Reddin ordered her to forfeit her entire public pension, and she is permanently barred from public office or employment. The judge ordered her to surrender to custody on June 5.
On Dec. 26, 2013, following a three-month trial, a Passaic County jury found Taliaferro guilty of second-degree charges of official misconduct, pattern of official misconduct, misconduct by a corporate official and theft by deception, as well as third-degree charges of tampering with public records or information and forgery.
Deputy Attorney General Veronica Allende tried the case and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.
“Taliaferro held herself out as someone with a strong interest in helping students and their parents, both in her school position in Paterson and her leadership of a nonprofit corporation,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “But instead she deviously used those positions to serve her own selfish interests, stealing taxpayer funds. We deal sternly with this type of abuse of the public’s trust.”
“This prison sentence should serve as a powerful warning to anyone who would misappropriate school funding to the detriment of New Jersey’s schoolchildren,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work closely with the Department of Education to uncover and prosecute such official misconduct in our public schools.”
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 how to be better advocates for their children.
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 already was 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, 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.