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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
September 9, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 

Division of Criminal Justice Charges North Jersey CFO with $1.7 Million Theft from Passaic County Nursing Home
Defendant Listed as Fugitive From Justice...
Report Confidential Information to Division of Criminal Justice Fugitive TipLine
1-866-TIPS-4CJ

TRENTON - Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Vaughn L. McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice, announced that the Division of Criminal Justice has charged the financial Controller of an Essex County nursing and rehabilitation home with stealing more than $1.7 million from the Center’s patient needs and payroll accounts. The charges, which include first degree money laundering, result from an extensive investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice - Major Financial Crimes Bureau.

“It is unfortunate when a professional in a position of trust and holding the responsibility of protecting those unable to care or protect themselves is compelled to steal from those very persons they are assigned to protect. This case was pursued by the Division of Criminal Justice - Financial Crimes Bureau which investigates and prosecutes financial crimes, securities and investment fraud and other crimes which impact investors and others who entrust their funds to licensed professional representatives,” Attorney General Harvey said.

According to Criminal Justice Director McKoy, a State Grand Jury indictment charged Peter Joseph Leus, 38, 63 Ravona St., Clifton, Passaic County, with first degree money laundering and theft by deception (second degree). Leus faces up to 30 years in state prison, a fine of up to $650,000, and restitution to the nursing home if convicted on both counts of the criminal indictment.

Criminal Justice Director McKoy noted that Leus is a fugitive from justice and has been placed on the Division of Criminal Justice “12 Most Wanted Fugitive List.” Leus, a/k/a Joseph Q. Leus and/or Joseph Leus, is a Filipino male 5'8" tall and weighing approximately 200 pounds. Leus has medium shade complexion, short-cropped straight black hair, and brown eyes. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Peter Joseph Leus is encouraged to contact the Division of Criminal Justice Fugitive TipLine at 1-866-TIPS-4CJ (1-866-847-7425) or State Investigator Danielle Han assigned to the Major Financial Crimes Bureau at 973-599-5815. All information will remain confidential.

“This indictment alleges that for more than two years, the defendant pilfered the nursing home patient needs and payroll accounts, stealing more than $1.7 million in order to feed a gambling habit and to pay personal expenses. As a result of the actions alleged in the criminal indictment, the financial health of the New Vista Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and its patients is in shambles,” Director McKoy said.

The State Grand Jury indictment alleges that from January, 2003 through February, 2005, Leus, the Controller of the New Vista Nursing and Rehabilitation Center located in Newark, Essex County for more than 17 years, embezzled approximately $1.7 million from his employer and the patients at the nursing and rehabilitation center. It is charged that during the two year period, Leus wrote more than 1,000 unauthorized checks in varying amounts from various accounts, including the patient needs and payroll accounts.

The indictment charges that a portion of the alleged fraud resulted from Leus writing extra payroll checks to New Vista employees -- payroll checks that the employees were unaware of and did not receive. The investigation uncovered 924 payroll checks totaling $1,103,544 in the names of 175 different employees. It is charged that the checks were deposited into a defunct business bank account maintained by Leus. Additionally, during the same time period, it is charged that Leus wrote 185 unauthorized checks totaling $594,377 payable to himself from the New Vista payroll account.

The investigation was conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice - Financial Crimes Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Francine Ehrenberg and State Investigator Danielle Han coordinated the investigation. The indictment was handed up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg on Sept. 6. The case will be assigned to the Essex County Superior Court for trial.

An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Additional information, including a copy of the State Grand Jury indictment and information on the Fugitive TipLine is available via the Division of Criminal Justice Web site at www.njdcj.org.


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