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Freeholder's Daughter Did Not Receive Special Treatment In Little Egg Thefts, State Says

Dawn Marie Kelly had no prior criminal record, pleaded guilty to accusation of stealing $40,000 from tax collector's office

The theft of $40,000 from the Little Egg Harbor tax collector's office first came to light when some residents received notices they had not paid their taxes when they had.

Little Egg Harbor officials then discovered that Dawn Marie Kelly, the 30-year-old daughter of Freeholder Director John P. Kelly, had been pocketing tax payment paid in cash, said Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the state Attorney General's office.

"They paid and the money disappeared," he said. "That led to the tax collector contacting Little Egg Harbor police, who referred it to the Division of Criminal Justice and the State Police."

Dawn Kelly, who worked as the deputy tax collector, pleaded guilty to an accusation of theft by unlawful taking prior to being indicted, he said.

"We made it clear she would be charged, she would be indicted," Aseltine said.

The state Attorney General's office agreed to the plea with no jail time, as long as Kelly agreed to resign, enter a long-term, inpatient drug treatment program, and pay back the money, he said.

Pleading guilty to a third degree time without any prior criminal history comes with a presumption of no jail time, according to state sentencing guidelines, Aseltine said.

"This was a fairly typical resolution in this kind of a case," he said. "We feel it's an appropriate resolution and it's in keeping with the nature of the case."

Kelly also agreed to pay back the $40,000 in restitution, give up her job and will never be able to hold a public position again, said Aseltine.

She still owes $6,486 in restitution. The balance has already been paid. Aseltine said he did not know how the balance was paid.

"I don't have specific information on the source of the funds that was paid back by her," he said.

Aseltine also said he did not know who would pay for the drug treatment program.

Kelly, Eagleswood Township, pleaded guilty to on Dec. 14 before Ocean County Superior Court Judge James M. Blaney.

The thefts took place between Nov. 11, 2011 and July 31, 2012, the state Attorney General's Office has said.

The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office also referred the matter to the state Attorney General's Office because of potential conflicts of interest, Executive Assistant Prosecutor Michel A. Paulhus has said.

Tip Semone January 23, 2013 at 05:09 PM
This was a coverup. What government worker can steal over $40K and not be charged with misconduct in office? Someone said the presumption for a 3rd degree crime for a first offender is probation. How about the presumption for a first offender for misconduct in office is five years. Why was she not charged?
proud January 23, 2013 at 05:25 PM
That @Tip Semone, is the conundrum.
Rem February 01, 2013 at 11:30 PM
They think we are all stupid. Lets be able to send all of these comments to them.
Mike L March 15, 2013 at 06:05 PM
And to think the her father wanted to be Sherrif !!!!!!!!
Right To Remain Silent April 24, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Jill Fisher steals $5,000 and receives a 3 year prison sentence. Dawn Kelly steals $40,000 and receives drug treatment. You don't have to be a "Rocket Scientist" to see the inequity!

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