Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on July 1, 2021, Matthew Bender, age 33, of Lacey Township, was charged with Theft in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a.
The charge is a result of an investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economics Crime Squad. The investigation revealed that Bender, a volunteer with the Lanoka Harbor Emergency Medical Service (LHEMS) and current dispatcher with the Lacey Township Police Department, was responsible for maintaining the LHEMS website. Bender also had access to the LHEMS PayPal account. On February 2, 2021, LHEMS was awarded a grant from Benevity, an organization that facilitates grants on behalf of the Macy’s corporation. The investigation further revealed that the grant money was disbursed to the LHEMS PayPal account managed by Bender.
Further investigation revealed that approximately $4690.00 was transferred the LHEMS PayPal account to Bender’s personal PayPal account. Investigation also revealed numerous purchases, in small denominations, for various restaurants, pharmacies and auto stores, confirming that the grant money was not used for the benefit of the LHEMS. It was determined that Bender misappropriated these funds for personal use.
Bender was processed at the Berkeley Township Police Department and released on a summons pending a future court date.
Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, the Lacey Township Police Department, and the Berkeley Township Police Department for their collaborative efforts in this investigation.
The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. R.P.C.3.6(b)(6).