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Accountant admits leading unemployment scheme


TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — State officials say a northern New Jersey accountant has admitted masterminding a scheme in which he and several others stole nearly $700,000 by filing false unemployment benefit claims.

Todd Halpern of Livingston pleaded guilty Monday to money laundering and theft by deception.

Prosecutors will recommend he receive a 12-year state prison term for the money laundering charge and a concurrent seven-year term for the theft count when he’s sentenced March 7. He also will pay more than $500,000 in restitution.

Between October 2008 and May 2012, the 48-year-old Halpern and his co-defendants filed 36 bogus claims using identities stolen from clients. They also filed fraudulent employment records in the names of businesses he served.

Halpern then used the funds to pay for jewelry, expensive cars and other lavish purchases.