Watchdog: Follow the Money

Ex-New Jersey state worker sentenced for stealing funds

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Associated Press,Watchdog,Labor,New Jersey,Entitlements,Follow the Money,Unemployment

TRENTON, N.J. — A former clerk for the state's Labor and Workforce Development Department has been sentenced for stealing nearly $19,000 in unemployment benefits.

Patricia Garcia of Old Bridge must serve a 364-day jail term and 18 months of probation under the sentence imposed Tuesday. She is also barred from public employment in New Jersey must pay $18,825 in restitution.

Garcia had pleaded guilty last November to theft by deception.

Authorities say the thefts occurred between December 2011 and January 2012, when the 31-year-old Garcia used the department's computers to redirect the money from four different unemployment benefits claims into her personal bank account.

Three of those claims should have been canceled, but Garcia continued or reactivated them so she could steal the money.

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