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Retired State Police commander admits to stealing from nonprofit fund

PATERSON – On Tuesday 11 Feb., a retired State Police commander, 47-year-old Maj. Michael Mattia, accepted to stealing more than $55,000 from a charitable fund he oversaw that was intended to assist fellow troopers and their families, and also getting a $19,000 loan from a subordinate colleague by lying.

To pay some undisclosed personal expenses, acting Maj. Michael Mattia stole the money from the bank accounts of the Troop B Health and Welfare Fund until his retirement in April 2013 from August 2011.

The investigation was started by the state Attorney General’s Office after Mattia left the force and they came to know that the charity’s bank account had only $26 left.

In October, the allegation against Mattia and the state’s investigation was first disclosed by The Star-Ledger.

Acting state Attorney General John Hoffman said, “Mattia betrayed his badge and those who served under him. This guilty plea demonstrates that nobody is above the law — in fact, we hold police officers to the highest standards”.

Mattia pleaded guilty to a single charge of theft by deception in court before Superior Court Judge Donald Volkert Jr. of Passaic County. He didn’t speak too much during the court hearing other than answering “yes, sir” to the allegations.

The state prosecutors will recommend Mattia be sentenced to probation and about a year in jail, under a plea bargain reached with the Attorney General’s Office. Sentencing is scheduled for 14th of March.

Mattia was a member of Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes’ command staff and in charge of Troop B in Totowa, overseeing northern New Jersey. He also administered the charitable fund, which uses proceeds from the sale of State Police apparel to pay scholarships and other trooper requirements. He transferred $55,500 in his account as he had access to the fund’s checking account and debit card. In March 2013, he paid $8,500 back and then $17,000 cash after being confronted about the account’s low balance, said the investigators.

Mattia got the $19,000 loan cash from a subordinate trooper, Neal Picillo and Mattia accepted he told Picillo that he needed the money to pay his mortgage and his children’s tuition. Mattia has not paid any amount of the loan back. It was later found out that he needed the money to replenish the fund.

Under the plea bargain, Mattia has to pay the outstanding $30,000 back owed to the fund as well as the $19,000 to Picillo. He will also not be able to do a job in New Jersey. His pension will be decided at a later date which was given by the state Treasury Department.

Mattia’s plea comes after a year when it was found that troopers assigned to Troop B had led a high-speed caravan of sports vehicles along some of New Jersey’s busiest highways. 2 troopers were criminally charged for the “Death Race 2012”. In 2013, one trooper pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year probation, and also accepted a permanent ban from law enforcement or public employment in New Jersey. The 2nd trooper was also banned from state law enforcement and in return entered a program for 1st time offenders. Under the agreement, upon completion of the program, the charges will be dismissed.

News Source: www.NJ.com

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