There are many ways to incur the wrath of the justice system in New Jersey. And being charged with state crimes is one thing, but being accused of crimes relating to federal programs is another one entirely. Criminal charges brought against a public official who is accused of fleecing may come with penalties that are quite severe — arguably more severe than the gains from such illicit behavior.

A woman from Elizabeth was recently convicted of state crimes for falsifying applications for the school lunch program to show that she was under the minimum income threshold for her children to receive free lunches. The woman was the president of the Elizabeth school board at the time of the offenses.

According to the charges, the woman omitted her husband’s income on the applications, which resulted in her income being reported as about $100,000 less than what it actually was. Her children received almost $2,700 in free lunches at their schools that they were ineligible for.

The school district’s program was a federal one, so the state took the offenses very seriously. The woman could face a fine of $15,000 as well as up to five years’ imprisonment when her sentence is given to her later this year. She resigned from her position on the school board after she was charged.

Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side throughout the process can be crucial. Having the right attorney could go a long way toward mitigating penalties that you might face as a result of the crimes you have been charged with.

Source: The Star-Ledger, “Former Elizabeth school board president convicted in free lunch scam,” Ted Sherman, March 27, 2014