The Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau today obtained a state grand jury indictment charging Theodore, 35, of Maplewood, with third-degree theft by failure to make required disposition of property received. Theodore allegedly recruited customers for his purported bill payment and debt consolidation business, Save My Future, which had an office on Atlantic Street in Jersey City, by claiming that he could reduce their monthly bills by 35 percent. He allegedly told clients that if they paid 65 percent of their bills to Save My Future, plus a fee, the firm would arrange for their bills to be paid in full. It is alleged that, in fact, Theodore quickly stopped paying bills for the clients and instead stole their payments. He allegedly stole more than $48,000 from clients of Save My Future.
Theodore previously was charged with second-degree theft in a Feb. 11, 2015 indictment for allegedly carrying out the same scheme through his company, TGC Movement, Inc., on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood. From May 2013 through his arrest on Oct. 15, 2013, he allegedly stole more than $250,000 from over 200 clients of TGC Movement. The Attorney General’s Office commenced a civil investigation through the Division of Consumer Affairs in September 2013 after receiving complaints from numerous customers of TGC. The Division of Consumer Affairs subsequently referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Justice for a criminal investigation. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Maplewood Police Department assisted in that criminal investigation.
After his arrest, Theodore posted bail and, in or about December 2013, opened Save My Future in Jersey City. In August 2014, he was re-arrested on a warrant charging him with theft related to numerous complaints from customers of Save My Future. The Division of Criminal Justice investigated those allegations with assistance from the Jersey City Police and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
“The allegations in this second indictment show that Theodore’s greed is matched only by his brazenness,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “No sooner had he been arrested for allegedly bilking clients out of a quarter of a million dollars than he posted bail and went back to his old tricks in a new location. We intend to see that he is punished for all of his alleged crimes.”
“Instead of helping his victims recover from debt, Theodore allegedly compounded their problems by stealing from them,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Theodore’s vulnerable victims needed real financial remedies, and he sold them snake oil.”
The investigation revealed that Theodore advertised both TGC Movement and Save My Future as bill payment and debt reduction services. Clients were told that if they submitted their unpaid bills to the companies, along with payment for 65 percent of the outstanding balance of those bills, the companies would remit payment in full to the client’s creditors. The companies charged an 8 percent fee to the client. In addition, in the case of Save My Future, there was a monthly membership fee of $15 if a client’s monthly bills were less than $1,000, or $25 if they exceeded $1,000. Theodore and other employees of the companies variously represented to prospective clients that either funding from a government grant program or private investors paid the remaining 35 percent of the clients’ bills.
Typically, TGC and Save My Future initially paid the full amount promised, in order to gain the trust of the client. In most cases, the client’s bills were paid in full after the client’s first and second visits to the business. Thereafter, however, the companies allegedly did not make the promised payments, and the client’s bills went unpaid, even though the companies continued to receive 65 percent of the outstanding balance and the 8 percent fee from the client. It is alleged that Theodore operated the two companies as classic Ponzi schemes, using money from new clients to pay the first bills submitted by earlier clients.
Deputy Attorney General Janet R. Bosi presented both indictments to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice. The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau by Deputy Attorney General Bosi, Deputy Attorney General Jacqueline Weyand, retired Deputy Attorney General Frank Brady, Detective Scott Stevens, Detective Mark Byrnes, Detective Roxanna Ordonez-Fresse, Detective James Gallo, Analyst Kim Geis and Intern Kathryn Scarpa, under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Monahan, who is Bureau Chief, and Lt. Harry Maronpot.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the Jersey City Police Department, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Maplewood Police Department for their assistance in the criminal investigations. He also thanked the Division of Consumer Affairs for its civil investigation and referral.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The indictments are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Today’s indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Hudson County, where Theodore will be ordered to appear in court for arraignment at a later date. The previous indictment was assigned to Superior Court in Essex County.