TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that an Atlantic County woman was indicted today for allegedly stealing $140,873 in state pension benefits that continued to be paid for her mother for eight years after the mother died.
Diana A. Heil, 48, of Pleasantville, N.J., was indicted by a state grand jury on charges of second-degree theft by unlawful taking and second-degree misapplication of entrusted property or property of government. The charge is the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, conducted with assistance from the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits.
At the time of her death in 2005, Heil’s mother was receiving survivor’s benefits as the beneficiary of Heil’s deceased father, who had been a member of the New Jersey Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund. The Division of Pensions and Benefits did not learn of the mother’s death and continued for eight years to make monthly payments into a joint checking account that the mother shared with Heil. Those payments accrued in the mostly inactive checking account until 2013, when the bank alerted Heil about the deposits, and Heil in turn alerted the state about her mother’s death. The Division of Pensions and Benefits subsequently conducted an audit and contacted Heil about returning the funds that were deposited into the account. It is alleged that Heil acknowledged that the money did not belong to her and promised to return it, but she instead proceeded to make a series of large withdrawals and wire transfers from the bank account, resulting in the theft of approximately $140,873 in state funds.
Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Uzdavinis and detectives of the Corruption Bureau investigated the case under the supervision of Bureau Chief Anthony Picione. Attorney General Grewal thanked the Division of Pensions and Benefits for its valuable assistance.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Gloucester County, where Heil will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.
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