TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a former auditor for the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) was sentenced today for falsifying audit records and time sheets to cover up unexcused absences and his failure to perform assigned audits of private vehicle inspection facilities.
James Pluchino, 52, of Manahawkin, was sentenced to 60 days in the county jail and three years of probation by Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels in Ocean County. He was ordered to pay restitution to the MVC of $9,313 and will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey. Pluchino pleaded guilty on June 11 to third-degree theft by deception. He was indicted on Feb. 24 as a result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the MVC’s Division of Security, Investigation and Internal Audit. Deputy Attorney General Peter Lee took the plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.
In pleading guilty, Pluchino, a former MVC compliance officer, admitted that he did not perform a large number of his assigned audits of private inspection facilities (PIFs) between March and August 2010. He was assigned to a route that included 94 PIFs. He was responsible for providing vehicle inspection stickers to the PIFs and auditing their documentation to make sure all stickers could be accounted for with corresponding inspection records. He admitted that, despite his failure to conduct numerous audits, he falsely reported to the MVC that he had completed the audits, and he submitted computerized time sheets indicating he worked on days when he did not perform any duties.
The Division of Criminal Justice estimated that Pluchino, whose annual salary was $62,661, fraudulently collected a total of $9,313 for days that he did not work. He falsified time sheets for at least 40 days when he did not perform any duties. Pluchino resigned in September 2010, prior to being charged in this case, after 25 years of employment with the MVC.
The case was investigated for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau by Detective Lee Bailey, Detective Shaun Egan and Deputy Attorney General Lee. The case was brought to the attention of the MVC’s Division of Security, Investigation and Internal Audit (S&I) by MVC Inspection Services Director Thomas Bednarz and Coordinator Paul Giordano, who became aware that Pluchino was not doing the PIF inspections he was assigned during several months in 2010. The matter was investigated for the MVC by Investigator Stephen Crane, with the assistance of S&I Chief of Investigations James Clifford.