PATERSON — A former clerk with the Passaic County Board of Social Services avoided jail time but will have to pay for the more than $9,000 worth of food stamps she admitted to stealing.

Carol Austin, 62, pleaded guilty to third-degree theft and fourth-degree unauthorized use of food stamps in March, according to the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office. On Friday she was sentenced to five years of probation, and also ordered to repay the United States Department of Agriculture $9,995.84 "for stolen funds," the prosecutor's office said.

Austin admitted to taking food stamps that did not belong to her, and that she did not have authorization to use them between November 2015 and May 2017. Due to her job with the county, Austin had access to food stamp cards that had been turned in by clients or family members, according to the prosecutor's office.

As part of her plea deal, Austin agreed to forfeit her job with the county and to being permanently barred from holding public office, effectively immediately.

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