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State Warehouse Employee May Avoid Prison for Misappropriating Computer Equipment August 19, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
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These probation with 364 deals are mostly for show.  Putting someone in jail for 364 days for non-violent offenses is a waste of tax payer money and everyone knows it.  New Jersey needs more creative sentences.  A thousand or so hours of community service would serve New Jersey much better than taking up another bed in the jail.  But since it is either prison, probation with jail or probation with no jail, the State likes probation with jail because it looks good and then they can lay off the blame on the judge when the defendant doesn’t get jail. 

TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that a suspended state warehouse employee pleaded guilty today for his role in misappropriating computer equipment from the Department of Treasury’s First Avenue Warehouse in Hamilton.

According to Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni, Thomas Sundstrom, 67, of Southampton, pleaded guilty to third-degree official misconduct before Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier in Mercer County.

Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Sundstrom be sentenced to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of a term of probation. Sundstrom was required by the state to forfeit his state job and will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey. He could face a fine of up to $15,000.

Judge Billmeier scheduled sentencing for Sundstrom for Oct. 29. Deputy Attorney General Anthony Picione, deputy chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General David M. Fritch prosecuted the case and took the guilty plea.

In pleading guilty, Sundstrom admitted that he gave computer equipment from the warehouse to people who were not entitled to receive it at the direction of the supervisor of the warehouse, David Winkler, 47, of Bordentown. Sundstrom said he gave computer equipment to a co-worker, Dominick Mangine, 45, of Jackson, who previously pleaded guilty in the case, and also gave computer equipment to juveniles who were assigned to the warehouse as part of a work study program of the Juvenile Justice Commission.

Winkler and Sundstrom were indicted on Nov. 20, 2008. The indictment charged that Winkler and Sundstrom misappropriated computer equipment for the personal use of other individuals, including other warehouse employees. Winkler was also charged with running a scheme in which he and other employees illicitly sold more than $24,000 in scrap metal and divided the proceeds between July 2005 and April 2007. Winkler and Sundstrom were suspended from their state jobs after their arrests on April 10, 2008.

Three other former warehouse employees have pleaded guilty in connection with the scrap metal scheme. They are James Mate, 49, of Yardville; Mangine; and William Gawroski III, 33, of Hamilton.

The charges resulted from a year-long investigation by the New Jersey State Police that commenced when Treasury officials obtained information that Gawroski was taking illegal payments from a recycling company in return for helping the company to secure more valuable equipment in auctions of surplus state computer equipment. The probe quickly expanded to include allegations that employees at the warehouse were taking home state-owned computers and that Winkler and other employees were taking surplus metal equipment to a non-approved recycler, selling it for cash as scrap metal, and splitting the money. The surplus metal items sold as scrap included desks, filing cabinets and other furniture and equipment.

The investigation was conducted and coordinated by Lt. Keith Dangler, Detective Sgt. 1st Class John Cappetta and Detective Sgt. Vincent Greene of the State Police State Governmental Security Bureau Investigations Unit, and Deputy Attorneys General Picione and Fritch.

Mate pleaded guilty to second-degree official misconduct and was sentenced on March 26 to three years in state prison. He and his co-defendants who pleaded guilty in the scrap metal scheme are responsible for full restitution for the thefts of $24,292. All of them forfeited their state jobs.

Mangine, who held the job of storekeeper at the warehouse, pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree pattern of official misconduct and was sentenced on Feb. 26 to 364 days in the Mercer County Jail as a condition of two years of probation. He also was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service.

Gawroski pleaded guilty on April 11, 2008 to third-degree pattern of official misconduct. He faces probation.

The charges are pending against Winkler, who is free on $25,000 bail. The indictment charges him with conspiracy (2nd degree), two counts of official misconduct (2nd degree), theft by unlawful taking (3rd degree), and misapplication of entrusted property and property of government (3rd degree).

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