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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
August 23, 2005

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


John R. Hagerty


Former Education Planner Pleads Guilty to Stealing More than $21,000 in Fees from State Department of Education

TRENTON — Attorney General Peter C. Harvey today announced that a former Education Planner employed by the New Jersey Department of Education has pleaded guilty in criminal court to a charge of official misconduct for stealing more than $21,230 in money orders received by the Department as fees for various teaching certifications and permits. The monies were used by the defendant for personal expenses.

“The Division of Criminal Justice is continuing to aggressively investigate and prosecute public corruption cases whether the acts are committed by appointed or elected officials,” Attorney General Harvey said.

According to Vaughn L. McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice, the Special Prosecutions Bureau filed a criminal Accusation which charged Sandra Coia, 42, Langhorne, PA, with one count of third degree pattern of official misconduct. The Accusation and guilty plea was entered before Mercer County Superior Court Judge William Mathesius on Aug. 23. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 7.

The Accusation alleges that from March, 2003 through August, 2004, Coia, employed as an Education Planner with the Department of Education, diverted more than $21,230 in fees received by the Department. The investigation determined that Coia was responsible for processing applications for teaching certificates, which included remitting the fee which accompanied each application. The Accusation charges that Coia would process the various applications and issue the appropriate licenses but would remove and retain the money orders sent by the applicants. It is charged that Coia then altered the money orders payable to the State of New Jersey and used the stolen funds to pay credit card and other personal expenses. In pleading guilty, Coia admitted that she altered 375 money orders with individual monetary values of $200.00 or less, deposited the money orders into her private checking account, or used the funds to pay credit card expenses.

Coia, a public employee with the Department of Education since 1986, was charged via a complaint summons issued by New Jersey State Police DSG Keith Dangler of the State Government Security Bureau, on Aug. 19, 2004. In pleading guilty, Coia agreed to repay $21,230 in restitution to the Department of Education (the restitution was paid to the Court after entering the guilty plea.) Additionally, Coia faces up to 364 days in county jail, a term of probation, and a potential fine of up to $15,000. Coia will be prohibited from holding any future public employment. Coia was suspended without pay in August, 2004, by the Department of Education.

“In pleading guilty to official misconduct, this defendant admitted to diverting thousands of dollars in education monies for her own personal use. This prosecution serves the public interest and the interests of justice,” said Director McKoy.

The investigation was coordinated by Deputy Attorney General Anthony Picione assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Special Prosecutions Bureau. The investigation was conducted by New Jersey State Police DSG Keith Dangler and Tpr. Dustin Lesnever, assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Special Prosecutions Bureau. The investigation was referred to the Special Prosecutions Bureau by the Department of Education.

A copy of the Accusation, plea agreement, and Waiver of Indictment is available via the Division of Criminal Justice Web site at:


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