Former State Clerk Who Processed Claims for Unclaimed Property Sentenced for Stealing Unclaimed Funds

– Co-Defendant Also Sentenced –

TRENTON – Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that a former clerk in the New Jersey Division of Taxation who processed claims for unclaimed property and a co-defendant were sentenced today for their roles in a scheme to steal unclaimed funds in 2006.

According to Director Taylor, Stefan Arteaga-Pitzenbauer, 37, of Levittown, Pa., a former technical assistant with the Division of Taxation, was sentenced to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of two years of probation by Superior Court Judge Gerald J. Council in Mercer County. Arteaga-Pitzenbauer was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. He is permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey. The sentence was based on Arteaga-Pitzenbauer’s Feb. 8 guilty plea to third-degree official misconduct. He was charged in a May 11, 2009 state grand jury indictment.

Also today, co-defendant Luis Maura, 26, of Hamilton, was sentenced to three years of probation by Judge Council. Maura pleaded guilty on Feb. 8 to third-degree theft by deception, a charge contained in the May 11, 2009 state grand jury indictment. Prior to today’s sentencing, the defendants paid the full amount of restitution.

In pleading guilty, Stefan Arteaga-Pitzenbauer admitted that he fraudulently prepared and approved payment of unclaimed property claims using names of individuals that were provided by Maura. Arteaga-Pitzenbaura and Maura admitted that, through the scam, they stole $8,584.

Unclaimed property is property, excluding real estate, that has been unclaimed by its rightful owner for a period of time specified by statute. Examples include unclaimed class action proceeds, safe deposit box contents, utility deposits, money orders and traveler’s checks. To claim property, an individual must file a form with the Division of Taxation to prove ownership. Technical assistants process claims and approve verified claims for payment.

The Division of Taxation Internal Security Unit initiated the investigations and referred them to the State Police Official Corruption Bureau and Division of Criminal Justice. Arteaga-Pitzenbauer was removed his state job in 2008 after the conduct was uncovered.

Investigator Carolyn A. Fox, Investigator Linda H. Bowker, Dennis G. Shilling, who now is Chief of Staff for the Division of Taxation, and Supervising Investigator Jack Grady conducted the investigation for the Division of Taxation Internal Security Unit. The investigation was led for the State Police Official Corruption Bureau by Detective James Sansone. New Jersey State Police Detective Sgt. Dave Smith assisted in the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Kase and Deputy Attorney General Michael Wicke coordinated the investigations for the Division of Criminal Justice. Deputy Attorney General Kase represented the Division of Criminal Justice at today’s sentencing.

The Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau has established a toll-free tipline: 1-866-TIPS-4CJ. Additionally, the public can log on to the Division of Criminal Justice Web page at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing. All information received through the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Tipline or Web page will remain confidential.

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