- Attorney General Anne Milgram announced
that a former Hillside police officer was
sentenced today for stealing funds from the
Homelessness Prevention Program administered
by the state Department of Community Affairs.
to Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni,
Vitor “Victor” Pedreiras, 32,
of Hillside, was ordered today to serve two
years probation conditioned upon his serving
364 days in county jail by Superior Court
Judge Robert Billmeier in Mercer County. The
sentence was based on Pedreiras’ guilty
plea to theft by deception, a charge contained
in an Aug. 14, 2007 state grand jury indictment.
pleading guilty on Aug. 5, Pedreiras admitted
that he falsely submitted - and assisted his
girlfriend in falsely submitting - four fraudulent
applications for grants totaling $14,963 under
the Homelessness Prevention Program. Pedreiras’
girlfriend, Joana Pereira, 27, of Newark,
formerly known as Joana Rodrigues, pleaded
guilty on Feb. 21, 2007 to charges of third-degree
theft by deception. Under their plea agreements,
Pedreiras and Pereira are required to pay
restitution to the Department of Community
Affairs of $14,963.
the time of the guilty plea, Judge Billmeier
signed an order removing Pedreiras from his
job as a police officer and permanently barring
him from public employment. He had been suspended
by the police department since the indictment
a landlord, admitted she submitted the four
fraudulent HPP applications with one of her
tenants, Tashime Mitchell, 36, of Irvington,
who shared the proceeds with her. Three applications
listed Joana Pereira as landlord and listed
as tenant either Mitchell, a relative of Mitchell,
or a fictitious person. The fourth listed
Vitor Pedreiras as landlord and a relative
of his as the tenant. Pereira is scheduled
to be sentenced by Judge Billmeier on Nov.
false applications were submitted to Robin
Wheeler-Hicks. Wheeler-Hicks, 50, of Elizabeth,
who was formerly the DCA-Union County senior
field representative, had responsibility for
processing HPP cases in the county, pleaded
guilty in March 2006 to stealing more than
$866,000 from the Homelessness Prevention
Program. She is also scheduled to be sentenced
by Judge Billmeier on Nov. 5.
Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) provides
grants to eligible individuals and families
who, through no fault of their own, are in
jeopardy of becoming homeless. It provides
money to pay rent to keep a family in a current
home, and provides applicants with up to two
months rent and security deposit for a new
residence if they have been forced out of
and Renita Livingston, 36, of Hillside, previously
pleaded guilty to assisting Wheeler-Hicks
in submitting numerous false HPP applications.
Mitchell pleaded guilty to bribery and was
sentenced on Nov. 3, 2006 to five years in
prison. Livingston pleaded guilty to conspiracy
and was sentenced on Dec. 15, 2006 to three
years in prison. Mitchell was ordered to pay
$29,000 in restitution, and Livingston, $10,500.
charges resulted from an investigation by
the Division of Criminal Justice and New Jersey
State Police. Nine other defendants have pleaded
guilty, including two former DCA employees
who received probation and four corporations.
All of the defendants were required to pay
restitution to DCA.
Department of Community Affairs alerted the
Division of Criminal Justice when program
officials uncovered questionable applications
and transactions involving the Homelessness
Prevention Program in Union County. The DCA
provided administrative resources and investigative
assistance to the Division of Criminal Justice
and State Police throughout the investigation.
Attorney General Anthony Picione, Deputy Chief
of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption
Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General David
Fritch prosecuted the case and represented
the state at the sentencing. The investigation
was conducted for the DCJ Corruption Bureau
by Sgt. Joseph Caloiaro, Sgt. Rob Feriozzi,
Detective Anthony Luyber, Detective Kiersten
Pentony, Civil Investigator Wayne Cummings,
and Analyst Alison Callery. It was conducted
for the New Jersey State Police by Detective
Sgt. Dustin Lesnever, Detective Sgt. Gerald
Nachurski and Detective Sgt. Gregory Shawaryn.
General Milgram noted that the Division of
Criminal Justice has established a toll-free
Corruption Tipline for the public to confidentially
report corruption, financial crime and other
illegal activities: 1-866-TIPS-4CJ.
The public also can confidentially report
suspected wrongdoing online at www.njdcj.org.