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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–Margaret Brennan was scheduled to be sentenced on February 2 after admitting to stealing $57,000 towards the end of her 29-year tenure at the Middlesex County Utilities Authority (MCUA), where she served as Treasurer and Comptroller.
The admission, and a plea deal for a 364-day sentence in county jail came in December. But Brennan, who is 68 years old and worked for the authority for 28 years, still has not spent a night in jail.
Perhaps due to bad weather, a change in judges, or some other reason, Brennan will continue to have her freedom, as the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office announced the sentencing was pushed back nearly a month.
“The sentence has been postponed until Feb. 27,” said James O’Neill, a spokesperson for Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey.
After she was first charged, the MCPO did not immediately issue a press release, but instead only publicized the prosecution after the media had already done so.
The MCUA paid Brennan an annual salary of $151,040 and she stood accused of stealing $57,000. Yet Judge Bradley Ferencz set bail at just $10,000 when she was first charged, and gave her until the end of the week to pay it.
According to NJ.com’s Susan Epstein, prosecutors told the court that between November 20, 2012 and June 16, 2014, Brennan wrote 19 different checks or withdrawal slips to herself, effectively stealing from the public agency.
The MCUA’s auditors have since merged with another firm, Baker Tilly, and declined to comment on the situation.
“ParenteBeard [now Baker Tilly] currently has a contract with the Middlesex County Utilities Authority to perform auditing services. The investigation has not revealed any reason to terminate that contract,” said C-N.
James Zullo, who recently took the helm of Elijah’s Promise, New Brunswick’s only soup kitchen, is one of the MCUA’s eleven board members.
The board is chaired by Ted Light, a professional engineer and former eleccted official. It also includes the likes of Edison Township Council member Robert Karabinchak, Union County Freeholder Linda Carter, and Old Bridge Town Attorney Jerome Convery.
The board is represented by John Hoffman of the powerful Wilentz Goldman and Spitzer law firm.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.