– Attorney General Anne Milgram announced
that a Bridgewater man pleaded guilty today
to using his position as a trustee of the
Martinsville Community Center to divert
$73,960 in community center funds for his
personal benefit. He also admitted that
he caused the center’s valuable land
and rent-producing building to be deeded
to a company controlled by him and his wife
for one dollar.
Cleary, 75, pleaded guilty before Superior
Court Judge Paul W. Armstrong in Somerset
County to an accusation charging him with
third-degree misapplication of entrusted
the plea agreement, Cleary and his wife,
Diane, 72, must forfeit their interest in
the land and building formerly owned by
the community center. Cleary also must pay
back $142,000, which includes all rent payments
received since the real property was deeded
to the company controlled by the Clearys,
as well as community center funds used to
make a down payment on a townhouse the couple
bought. If the couple meets all conditions
of the plea agreement, the state will recommend
a sentence of probation for John Cleary
and will not oppose Diane Cleary’s
application to the court for the Pre-Trial
Armstrong scheduled John Cleary’s
sentencing for Dec. 5.
and Diane Cleary were charged by complaint
on Feb. 5 with misapplication of entrusted
property. The Division of Criminal Justice
also charged The Now School, a non-profit
entity they created that took title to the
property of the Martinsville Community Center
at 1961 Washington Valley Road. The charge
against The Now School will be dismissed.
building at 1961 Washington Valley Road
has been leased by New Wine Ministries Inc.
for use by the Holy Spirit Fellowship Church.
An investigation by the Division of Criminal
Justice determined that between Oct. 1,
2000 and June 30, 2006, tens of thousands
of dollars in rent payments from the church
to the Martinsville Community Center were
diverted by the Clearys to a company they
owned called Premax Corp.
June 30, 2006, the Clearys, as trustees
of the Martinsville Community Center, deeded
the land and building of the community center
to The Now School, which purportedly was
an Internet-based nonprofit dedicated to
philosophy and education. In reality, The
Now School did not even have a Web site.
The property had been assessed years earlier
Harry Maronpot Jr. and Michael Behar investigated
for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption
Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Thomas Clark
prosecuted the case for the Bureau and took
today’s guilty plea.
General Milgram noted that the Division
of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau has
established a toll-free Corruption Tipline
for the public to report corruption, financial
crime and other illegal activities. Additionally,
the public can log on to the Division of
Criminal Justice Web site at www.njdcj.org
to report suspected wrongdoing. All information
received through the Tipline or Web page
will remain confidential.