TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that the former chief financial officer for a nonprofit organization that provides services to individuals with autism was indicted today for allegedly stealing approximately $115,000 from the organization for his personal use.
Peter Pflug, 55, of Freehold, N.J., the former chief financial officer for New Horizons in Autism, was indicted today by a state grand jury on second-degree charges of theft by unlawful taking and misapplication of entrusted property and property of government. It is alleged that between June 2015 and February 2018, Pflug made approximately $115,000 in unauthorized personal expenditures using New Horizons credit cards and checks, including numerous purchases for his home.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice executed a search warrant in April at Pflug’s home, where they allegedly identified numerous items and home improvements paid for using New Horizons credit cards and financial accounts.
New Horizons, a nonprofit based in Monmouth County, provides services to individuals with autism, including the operation of group homes. New Horizons receives the vast majority of the funding for its programs through a contract with the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities. Pflug, as chief financial officer of New Horizons, was entrusted with use of the organization’s credit cards and checking accounts to make purchases for the nonprofit. It is alleged that Pflug, without authorization, used the nonprofit’s accounts to make approximately $115,000 in personal expenditures, frequently recording the products and services as purchases made for group homes operated by the nonprofit.
The alleged personal purchases made by Pflug using New Horizons’ credit cards and checks included:
- over $36,000 for purchases of personal vehicles and expenses related to personal vehicles;
- approximately $10,000 for carpeting for his home;
- over $35,000 for other renovations and repairs to the interior and exterior of his home;
- over $20,000 for landscaping and fencing outside his home;
- over $10,000 for new dining room and bedroom furniture and a new refrigerator; and
- nearly $2,000 for a fish tank and related equipment.
“Pflug is alleged to have abused his position as chief financial officer of this nonprofit by diverting funds for his personal use that were intended to provide services to individuals with autism,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Most of this was taxpayer money, dedicated to funding group homes under a state contract, but Pflug is alleged to have selfishly stolen approximately $115,000 for improvements at his own home as well as purchases of personal vehicles and other goods and services.”
“This indictment should deter others in positions of trust who would consider stealing from the organizations they serve,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “In this case, the betrayal was even more egregious because Pflug allegedly stole public funds intended for the assistance of a particularly vulnerable population.”
Deputy Attorneys General Kathryn Faris and Mallory Shanahan presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Attorney General Grewal commended those attorneys and all of the detectives who worked on the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Anthony Picione.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Monmouth County, where Pflug will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free Corruption Tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities confidentially. The public can also log on to the Division webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.
The Attorney General’s Office has an Anti-Corruption Reward Program that offers a reward of up to $25,000 for tips from the public leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption. Information is posted on the Attorney General’s website at: www.nj.gov/oag/corruption/reward.html.
Robert Honecker Jr., Esq., Ansell, Grimm & Aaron, P.C., Ocean Township, N.J.
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