Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a former senior payroll clerk for the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) was sentenced to jail today for using her work computer to generate false insurance cards for herself and others. She also admitted that she stole public assistance benefits by creating false documents to claim childcare expenses.
Laquanda Tate, 39, of Trenton, was sentenced to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of three years of probation by Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw in Mercer County. Judge Warshaw agreed to permit Tate to serve the jail sentence through the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program. Tate also was ordered to perform 30 days of community service and pay full restitution of the $5,000 in public assistance benefits she received. She is permanently barred from public employment. Tate pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to third-degree charges of simulating a motor vehicle insurance identification card and theft by deception, which were contained in a May 4, 2015 indictment.
Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Gilmore prosecuted Tate and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The charges resulted from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the Department of Human Services (DHS). Tate was terminated from her state job in April 2013 after the alleged conduct was uncovered.
That state’s investigation revealed that between April 2009 and December 2012, Tate used her DHS computer to generate false insurance identification cards for her personal use and for sale to three other people. In a separate scheme, Tate created false notarized letters that purportedly were signed by childcare providers which she used to claim that she incurred unreimbursed childcare expenses of $8,677 from 2010 to 2012. By including those expenses in applications to the Mercer County Board of Social Services for food stamps, Tate allegedly received $3,635 in benefits to which she was not entitled. She also allegedly claimed such false expenses in applications to the State Department of Community Affairs for Section 8 rental assistance, thereby receiving more than $1,000 in added housing benefits to which she was not entitled.
“We have zero tolerance for public officials who abuse their positions for personal gain, and Tate was guilty of a shameful array of abuses,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “She didn’t just steal and break the law; she helped others break the law by selling them fraudulent insurance cards, which put law-abiding motorists at risk by enabling uninsured motorists to share the road.”
“By misusing a state computer, selling fraudulent documents and stealing public assistance funds, Tate completely betrayed the trust placed in her as a public servant,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This jail sentence should send a strong deterrent message to any other government employees who might consider illegally exploiting their positions.”