NJ autism group’s CFO spent tax dollars on himself, prosecutors say
The former chief financial officer of a nonprofit that helps people with autism has been charged with stealing $115,000 from the organization, which is funded in large part by taxpayers.
Peter Pflug, who worked for New Horizons in Autism, used credit cards and checks from the organization on items including cars and furniture, according to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. New Horizons is largely funded through a contract with the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities, and Pflug was in charge of making purchases for the organization, Grewal said.
When he made the purchases between June 2015 and February 2018, Pflug would record the items as being bought for homes the organization ran, Grewal said. During that time Grewal he spent.
- $36,000 for purchases of vehicles and expenses for the vehicles
- $10,000 for carpeting for his own home
- $35,000 for renovations and repairs of his home, along with $20,000 for landscaping of his property.
Grewal said he spent $10,000 for furniture in his dining room and bedroom, as well as a new refrigerator. He is also charged with using $2,000 of the organization's money to buy a fish tank and equipment for the tank.
"Most of this was taxpayer money, dedicated to funding group homes under a state contract, but Pflug is alleged to have selfishly stolen approximately $115,000 for improvements at his own home as well as purchases of personal vehicles and other goods and services," Grewal said.
New Horizon's spokesperson Carrie Conger said the organization was "shocked and saddened over the recent events surrounding any of our former staff." Despite Pflug's arrest she said the organization is committed to continue what it has done for more than 30 years.
"New Horizon's priorities have always been and will continue to be the health, the safety and the well being of the individuals we serve," she said. "The organization is committed to continuing the quality services of people with autism, and we'll do everything we can to ensure that we live up to that mission."
According to New Horizon's website they provide a wide variety of services, including group residences, vocational programs, behavior therapy and training for people working with people with autism. Conger said the organization helps people in Ocean, Monmouth and Bergen counties.
Pflug has been indicted on charges of second-degree theft by unlawful taking and misapplication of entrusted property and property of the government. If convicted, he faces five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
His attorney, Robert Honecker Jr., did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment on Tuesday evening.