TRENTON - Attorney General
Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director
Stephen J. Taylor announced that a Newark
woman was sentenced today for assisting
a former employee of the City of Newark
in a conspiracy to steal hundreds of thousands
of dollars from the federally funded Women,
Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program
by means of fraudulent vouchers.
According to Director Taylor,
Veronica Anderson, 51, of Newark, was sentenced
to three years of probation by Superior
Court Judge Michael A. Petrolle in Essex
County. Anderson pleaded guilty on Jan.
6 to third-degree receiving stolen property.
Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Monahan
took the guilty plea and represented the
state at the sentencing.
An ongoing investigation
by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption
Bureau revealed that between Dec. 1, 2005,
and Jan. 31, 2007, Charles Brown, a former
senior clerk for the Newark WIC Program,
and other employees of the Newark WIC Program
conspired to issue more than $1 million
in fake vouchers. In pleading guilty, Anderson
admitted that she assisted Brown in the
distribution of fraudulent vouchers. Brown
did not have a car or driver’s license,
and Anderson, who did, would drive Brown
to distribute the vouchers. She admitted
that Brown paid her between $100 and $200
each time she drove him.
Brown, 42, of Newark, previously
pleaded guilty to second-degree official
misconduct for his role in the scheme and
was sentenced on Feb. 23, 2009, to eight
years in state prison by Judge Petrolle.
On Feb. 20, 2009, another former senior
clerk in the Newark WIC Program, Wyetta
Judson, 39, of Newark, pleaded guilty to
second-degree official misconduct. She has
not been sentenced yet. The state will recommend
that she also be sentenced to state prison.
On Dec. 1, Benedicto Bernal,
31, owner of Dreamers Supermarket on 7th
Ave. in Newark, pleaded guilty to first-degree
money laundering before Superior Court Judge
Edward M. Neafsey in Mercer County. Bernal,
who was not an authorized WIC vendor, admitted
that he purchased fraudulent vouchers from
Brown and resold them by the stack to vendors
in Essex, Camden, Union and Middlesex counties.
The fraudulent vouchers were deposited into
the bank accounts of more than 20 WIC-authorized
vendors throughout New Jersey. The state
will recommend that Bernal be sentenced
to 10 years in state prison, one-third of
which would have to be served without possibility
The Division of Criminal
Justice obtained a state grand jury indictment
on June 8, 2009 charging Bernal and two
other defendants: Audrey Walker Bey, 36,
of Newark, a former clerk for the Newark
WIC Program and Elvis Manuel Sanchez-Vasquez,
35, a former owner and manager of Sanchez
Supermarket on Springdale Avenue in East
The charges against Walker
Bey and Sanchez-Vasquez are pending. They
are merely accusations and the defendants
are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Walker Bey was arrested
in May 2008 as a result of the investigation
and is free on $40,000 bail.
Sanchez-Vasquez was arrested
in Newark on Feb. 9, 2010 by Division of
Criminal Justice detectives. He is being
held in the Mercer County Jail in lieu of
$500,000 full cash bail.
The investigation began
when the New Jersey Department of Health
and Senior Services and the Newark Department
of Health and Human Services alerted the
Division of Criminal Justice to suspected
thefts of vouchers from the Newark WIC Program.
Deputy Attorneys General
Monahan and Jeffrey Manis are prosecuting
the case for the Division of Criminal Justice
Corruption Bureau. The investigation was
conducted by Detective Michael Behar and
Sgt. David Salzmann of the Division of Criminal
Justice, with the assistance of Administrative
Analyst Kathleen Ratliff.
WIC is a federally funded
program, administered by the New Jersey
Department of Health and Senior Services,
that provides low-income women who are pregnant
or breast feeding and guardians of children
up to age 5 with vouchers to purchase nutritional
necessities, including baby formula, milk,
orange juice and cereal. The vouchers can
be redeemed at any store approved as a WIC
vendor for food items specifically listed
on the voucher. Once redeemed, the vendor
completes the voucher by filling in the
cost of the product supplied. The Newark
WIC Program is one of 18 WIC programs in
Taylor noted that the Division of Criminal
Justice Corruption Bureau has established
a statewide Corruption Tipline: 1-866-TIPS-4CJ.
Additionally, the public can log on to the
Division’s Web page at www.njdcj.org
to report suspected wrongdoing. All information
received through the Corruption Tipline
or Web page will remain confidential.