For Immediate Release: May 18, 2023
Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Office of Securities Fraud
and Financial Crimes Prosecutions
– Pablo Quiñones, Legal Chief
TRENTON–Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced today that a former office worker at a Cumberland County trucking company pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $850,000 from his employer over a three-year period. The case was investigated by the Division of Criminal Justice Office of Securities Fraud and Financial Crimes Prosecutions (OSFFCP), with assistance from the New Jersey Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation and the Vineland Police Department.
Antwoin L. Brown, 55, of Vineland, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by deception in a hearing before Superior Court Judge George H. Gangloff in Cumberland County on May 11, 2023. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the State will recommend that Brown be sentenced to four years in state prison and also be required to pay restitution to his former employer. Sentencing is scheduled for October 27, 2023. The sentencing judge is solely responsible for determining the sentence to impose on the defendant.
In pleading guilty, Brown admitted that from January 2016 through December 2019, he wrote hundreds of company checks to himself to steal $846,347 from his employer. Brown disguised the thefts by logging the checks into company records as payments for fake invoices he created in the names of others.
The investigation revealed that over the course of several years, Brown cashed the company checks at local check cashing facilities and deposited the money, in small increments, directly into his personal bank accounts. The investigation further revealed that Brown used the ill-gotten funds to pay for personal expenses, including home improvements, automobiles and motorcycles, a pool, credit card bills, and personal loans.
“The guilty plea we secured in this case makes it clear that we will not allow this kind of criminal greed to go unpunished in New Jersey,” said Attorney General Platkin. “We will vigorously investigate and prosecute cases like this to protect businesses from criminal schemes perpetrated by disloyal employees.”
“Antwoin Brown gained the trust of his employer and then he abused that trust for years by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from him,” said Pablo Quiñones, Chief of the Office of Securities Fraud and Financial Crimes Prosecutions. “Our prosecution of Brown should send a message that anyone who embezzles money from their New Jersey employer will be found and prosecuted.”
Brown was able to carry out the thefts by exploiting his position as a coordinator of the independent truck drivers his employer’s company hired during times of high volume. As a coordinator, Brown was responsible for scheduling pickups and deliveries – or “hauls” – to be covered by independent truck drivers and for writing checks compensating them for their work. Brown’s theft scheme involved creating phony trucking hauls and fake invoices for payments owed to drivers who purportedly made the hauls. But instead of making the checks out to the drivers, Brown would write the checks to himself. His scheme went undetected until early 2020, when an independent truck driver received notification from the IRS about unpaid taxes. The investigation revealed that the driver had not received the compensation in question because Brown had been writing the checks to himself.
Deputy Attorney General Jeremy Lackey is prosecuting the case for the Office of Securities Fraud and Financial Crimes Prosecutions, under the supervision of OSFFCP Deputy Bureau Chief Alyssa Bloom and Legal Chief Pablo Quiñones. Det. John Pisano led the investigation for OSFFCP with assistance from Civil Investigator Gregory Nolan, under the supervision of Sgt. Naike Casciano. The investigation was assisted by Special Agent Michael Dolan with the New Jersey Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation, under the supervision of Supervising Agent Bruce Stuck, and by Det. Louis Rodriguez with the Vineland Police Department, under the supervision of Sgt. Scott O’Neill.
Attorney General Platkin thanked the New Jersey Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation and the Vineland Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.
Andrew Butchko, Esq., Helmer, Kasselman, and Conley, P.A.