Two Essex County Parks Department employees pleaded guilty Monday to charges that they stole gasoline intended for county vehicles in order to fuel personal vehicles.
Rocca Gonnella, 47, of Toms River and Albert Maldonado, 42, of Elizabeth, pleaded guilty to one count each of theft before Judge Siobhan Teare in a Newark courtroom, according to acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray.
The men—now both former employees of the county parks department—each admitted to illegally using access codes that had allowed them to gas up county vehicles and equipment to do their jobs to instead fill up their personal vehicles numerous times between Feb. 10, 2012 and May 18, 2012.
The theft was uncovered in a joint investigation involving the Essex County Inspector General’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, according to Murphy.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, each man will be sentenced to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison when they are sentenced on April 28. They will also pay $2,000 each in restitution to the county, forfeit their jobs and forfeit all future public employment in the state of New Jersey.
The case was handled by Assistant Prosecutor Adam B. Wells.