Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a former senior payroll clerk for the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) was indicted today for allegedly using her work computer to generate false insurance cards for herself and three others. She also allegedly stole public assistance benefits by creating false documents to claim childcare expenses, and she allegedly used DHS equipment to create a false photo identification that she intended to use in furtherance of that scheme.
Laquanda Tate, 38, of Trenton, was indicted by a state grand jury on charges of official misconduct (2nd degree), pattern of official misconduct (2nd degree), false government documents (2nd degree), simulating a motor vehicle insurance identification card (3rd degree), official misconduct (3rd degree), theft by deception (3rd degree), and two counts of falsifying or tampering with records (4th degree).
The charges are the result of 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.
It is alleged 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. It is further alleged that, 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 an additional $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. In addition, Tate allegedly used DHS equipment to create a false employee identification card that bore her photo but another person’s name. Tate had access to that equipment as a senior payroll clerk. Tate allegedly intended to use the photo ID card to impersonate the named individual and obtain a notarized letter that the woman had provided childcare services to Tate’s child. However, she never actually used the false photo identification card in that manner.
Deputy Attorneys General Jonathan Gilmore and Peter W. Lee, Deputy Bureau Chief, presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice by Detective Thomas Page. Deputy Attorney General Victor R. Salgado assisted in the investigation. DHS Police Detectives Alex Rivera and Carlos Ramirez investigated for the Department of Human Services.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The second-degree official misconduct charges carry a mandatory minimum term of parole ineligibility of five years, and the third-degree official misconduct charge carries a mandatory minimum term of parole ineligibility of two years. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
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, who assigned the case to Mercer County, where Tate will be ordered to appear for arraignment at a later date.