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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
July 27, 2005

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


John R. Hagerty


Attorney General’s Office - Division of Criminal Justice Files New Criminal Charges Against Former Commerce Commission Official as Part of Ongoing Corruption Probe
State Grand Jury Indicts Devereaux On Welfare Fraud-Related Charges of Theft & Forgery... Previously Charged With Using Government Office for Personal Gain...

TRENTON, NJ -- Attorney General Peter C. Harvey today announced that an ongoing Division of Criminal Justice investigation targeting public corruption in the cabinet-level office of the New Jersey Commerce & Economic Growth Commission has resulted in additional criminal charges being filed against the Commission’s former Chief-of-Staff and Vice-President of Operations.

“This investigation and prosecution continues to uncover allegations of corruption that demonstrate a complete disregard for public policy, the laws of this State, and which reveal a pattern of alleged illegal activity by a former senior public official more concerned about personal enrichment than the interests of New Jersey taxpayers. This widening corruption investigation continues,” said Attorney General Harvey.

Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy said that a State Grand Jury indictment returned today (Wed., July 27) charged Lesly Devereaux, a/k/a Lesly Harper, 46, 74 Azelea Place, Piscataway, Middlesex County, with theft by deception, tampering with public records or information, and forgery. Devereaux was previously indicted by the State Grand Jury on Dec. 6, 2004, on corruption-related charges of official misconduct. Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mariann K. Bielamowicz previously set bail at $20,000.

According to McKoy, the current welfare fraud charges result from a Special Prosecutions Bureau investigation which uncovered evidence that from July, 2000 to May, 2001, Devereaux, using the name of Lesly Harper, applied for food stamps through the Middlesex County Board of Social Services using false and fraudulent information.

The State Grand Jury indictment alleges that Devereaux, a licensed New Jersey attorney since 1989, applied for public assistance food stamps in June, 2000. It is charged that Devereaux failed to report significant financial assets, including household income generated by her husband, her employment as an attorney, and the contents of several bank accounts. As a result of the fraudulent documentation, Devereaux received $426.00 in food stamps in October, 2000 and $211.00 per month in food stamps from November, 2000 through May, 2001. The total amount of food stamps allotted to Devereaux was more than $1,900.00. The investigation determined that during the period Devereaux was receiving public assistance food stamps, she and her husband earned more than $60,000.00.

The Dec. 6, 2004, State Grand Jury indictment charged that from October, 2003 through June, 2004, Devereaux, as Chief-of-Staff and Vice-President of Operations for the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth Commission, utilized her state government position to benefit herself and several family members, including the hiring of Lillian Harper (mother) and Candace Harper (sister) as outside “consultants.” The investigation determined that Candace Harper, while living in North Carolina, was paid $9,250 for consulting work to purportedly review vendor files and to develop a database of vendors for use by the Commission. Additionally, it was charged that Lillian Harper (mother) was paid $2,275 as an independent consultant to proof read two Commerce Commission publications which had already been reviewed, edited, and published by Commerce Commission staff. The indictment also alleged that in response to an Office of Legislative Services audit, Devereaux directed the creation of official documents authenticating the hiring of family members and the payment of public funds. As part of the attempt to cover-up the purported illegal acts, the indictment charged that Devereaux created and/or back-dated proposals and employment contracts for both Lillian and Candace Harper, payment vouchers, and other official documents.

Deputy Attorney’s General Anthony Picione and Robert Czepiel of the Division of Criminal Justice - Special Prosecutions Bureau coordinated the prosecution and presented both cases to the State Grand Jury. New Jersey State Police Det. Sgt. Myles Cappiello, assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Special Prosecutions Bureau, coordinated the investigation with State Investigator’s Kiersten Pentony, Edward Augustyn, and Anthony Luyber. Additional investigative assistance was provided by the Division of Criminal Justice Computer Analysis & Technology Unit and state auditors from the Office of Legislative Services.

The indictment, handed up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Maria Marinari Sypek, will be assigned to the Mercer County Superior Court for trial. Devereaux will be issued a complaint summons to appear for arraignment and bail. If convicted on the current charges, Devereaux faces over 15 years in state prison and more than $60,000 in criminal fines and penalties. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges unless or until proven guilty in a court of law.

A copy of the State Grand Jury indictment is available via the Division of Criminal Justice Web Page at


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