TRENTON –Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that the former chief financial officer for a nonprofit organization that provides services to individuals with autism pleaded guilty today to stealing nearly $115,000 from the organization for his personal use.
Peter Pflug, 56, of Freehold, N.J., the former chief financial officer for New Horizons in Autism, pleaded guilty today to a second-degree charge of theft by unlawful taking before Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregrossa-O’Connor in Monmouth County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Pflug be sentenced to three years in state prison. He will be required to pay full restitution. Sentencing for Pflug is scheduled for March 22.
Deputy Attorney General Mallory Shanahan prosecuted Pflug and took the guilty plea for the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.
Pflug was indicted in an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. New Horizons, a nonprofit based in Monmouth County, provides services to individuals with autism, including through the operation of group homes. New Horizons receives the vast majority of the funding for its programs through a contract with the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities. Pflug, as chief financial officer of New Horizons, was entrusted with use of the organization’s credit cards and checking accounts to make purchases for the nonprofit. The investigation revealed that between June 2015 and February 2018, Pflug, without authorization, used the nonprofit’s accounts to make approximately $114,917 in personal expenditures, frequently recording the products and services as purchases made for group homes operated by the nonprofit. Detectives executed a search warrant in April 2018 at Pflug’s home, where they identified numerous items and home improvements paid for using New Horizons credit cards and financial accounts.
“Pflug abused his position as chief financial officer of this nonprofit by diverting funds for his personal use that were intended to provide services to individuals with autism,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Most of this was taxpayer money, dedicated to funding group homes under a state contract, but Pflug selfishly stole nearly $115,000 for his own home improvements, vehicles and other personal expenses.”
“Pflug betrayed the nonprofit that employed him and the vulnerable population served by the nonprofit,” said Director Thomas Eicher of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. “Moreover, he stole from New Jersey taxpayers. We have zero tolerance for this type of corrupt conduct.”
Deputy Attorney General Shanahan and former Deputy Attorney General Kathryn Faris presented the case to the state grand jury for the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. Attorney General Grewal commended those attorneys and all of the detectives who worked on the investigation for the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Eicher noted that the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability a toll-free Tipline 1-844-OPIA-TIPS for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities confidentially.
The Attorney General’s Office has an Anti-Corruption Reward Program that offers a reward of up to $25,000 for tips from the public leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption. Information is posted on the Attorney General’s website at: www.nj.gov/oag/corruption/reward.html.
Robert Honecker Jr., Esq., Ansell, Grimm & Aaron, P.C., Ocean Township, N.J.