Ken Serrano, @KenSerranoAPP 11:06 p.m. EDT May 26, 2015
TRENTON – A Manalapan man who worked as an attorney for a home health care company in Ocean County stole more than $2.6 million from his employer, purportedly to fuel a gambling addiction, he admitted in federal court Tuesday.
Matthew S. Neugeboren, 39, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false tax return before Judge Mary L. Cooper in U.S. District Court, Trenton.
Neugeboren worked as general counsel for the company, which was not named in court documents, from 2006 to 2013 and maintained an attorney trust account to pay for business expenses. He requested checks and wire transfers into that account, authorities said.
Neugeboren admitted that he stole $2,644,911 from January 2008 through December 2012.
In 2009, Neugeboren worked for Preferred Health Mate Inc. of Brick, which agreed that year to pay $17,700 in penalties to the state to settle an investigation into the company's business practices,.
As part of the settlement, the company agreed to enact several changes, among them, not allowing unlicensed or uncertified health care practitioners from performing work.
Neugeboren spoke on behalf of the company after the settlement was announced.
"For over 20 years, Preferred Health Mate has provided home health services to residents of the state of New Jersey in compliance with all rules and regulations," he said. "This settlement agreement further confirms this fact. We look forward to continuing to be regarded as one of New Jersey's premier health care service firms."
The criminal charges against Neugeboren in connection with his guilty plea stem from two crimes.
On Dec. 11, 2012, Neugeboren transferred $1 million from a bank account in New Jersey to one in Pennsylvania, according to court records.
For the calendar year 2011, he filed a tax return showing $261,143 in gross income, failing to report about $630,000, according to court records.
His attorney, Justin Walder of Roseland, said Neugeboren has not practiced law since he was fired from the company and continues to undergo treatment for a gambling addiction. The U.S. Attorney's Office did not make a photograph of Neugeboren available.
"It's a severe problem," Walder said. "It's sad but he has accepted responsibility."
Neugeboren has already paid back some $1.2 million of the money. Walder said he repaid that money in 2012, before an investigation was launched.
He must pay remaining restitution in the amount of $1,404,962.91, under the plea agreement.
The wire fraud count carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison. The false tax return count is punishable by a prison term of up to three years. Both charges carry a maximum fine of $250,000.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 3.
Ken Serrano: 732-643-4029; firstname.lastname@example.org