NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A former drug treatment counselor at a Perth Amboy clinic "Journey to Wellness" has admitted to doling out favors for his clients in exchange for cash.
Anthony Trimble from Howell Township admitted to taking about $1,500 from his clients who had been placed on probation and providing them with favorable reports on their progress.
Trimble, age 54, pleaded guilty to a count of theft by unlawful taking as part of a plea deal that was reached with the Middlesex County Prosecutor Christine D'Elia.
The terms of the deal would allow the defendant to be sentenced only to probation under the condition that he would fully repay the stolen funds from his victims.
Trimble also forfeited his counseling license. Sentencing will take place in New Brunswick on September 11, 2017.
Investigators with the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office learned of Trimble's actions when the attorney of one of the probation clients contacted authorities upon being informed of the scheme.
The investigation would reveal that Trimble demanded payments from three clients in the fall of 2016.
As previously reported by New Brunswick Today, Trimble was employed by the state, working as a counselor at the Special Treatment Unit of East Jersey State Prison in Avenel.
The conviction continues a pattern of reported poor oversight of the process of privatization of various elements of the criminal justice system.
With small companies like Journey to Wellness being given hefty responsibilities to perform drug testing on behalf of the courts, there are concerns that these companies are not equipped to handle the tasks.
According to a message appearing on the homepage of the website for Journey to Wellness, the company was hacked in the days following Trimble's arrest.
However, these problems aren't limited to private companies. Recently, a former state probation officer pleaded guilty for accepting bribes from a person who was reporting to her for probation, according to NJ.com.
Rhonda Battle, worked at Middlesex County Courthouse in the courtroom of Judge Lorraine Pullen with clients who were part of the "drug court" and willfully kept her client off a random drug-testing list in return for a bribe.
She was sentenced to 3 years in state prison and is forever banned from holding a public job in the state.
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 was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.