Former assemblyman sentenced to 3 years probation

TRENTON – Former Assemblyman Albert Coutinho was sentenced to three years probation Thursday after pleading guilty last month to theft and tampering with records.

The former lawmaker, who stepped down from office a day before pleading guilty to the charges, was also ordered to pay back $32,500 to the charitable foundation he stole funds from and perform 50 hours of community service. The sentence was announced by the state’s acting attorney general.

Coutinho is permanently barred from holding public office or public employment in New Jersey.

“Citizens rightly demand a high standard of integrity from their elected representatives and other government officials who are entrusted with managing public funds and resources,” said Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said in a statement. “Mr. Coutinho fell short of that standard by misappropriating funds from a charity and failing to meet his financial disclosure obligations as a legislator.  He will pay the just consequences.”

Coutinho admitted cashing checks meant for his family’s foundation over a four-year period starting in 2008 and totaling more than $32,000 for personal use.

The Bernardino Coutinho Foundation is a nonprofit run by Coutinho’s family. It serves Newark’s Ironbound district’s Portuguese community.

Former assemblyman sentenced to 3 years probation