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Ventnor Code Enforcement officer stole more than $91K, charges claim

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A Ventnor Code Enforcement officer allegedly stole more than $91,000 from the town and then covered up her crimes.

Michelle Calderon, 37, of Egg Harbor Township, is charged with pattern of official misconduct, official misconduct, misapplication of entrusted property and altering computer software to commit theft.

From 2021 through this year, Calderon allegedly took cash from citizens and businesses intended as payment for various city permits, and then kept the cash for herself, according to the charges.

Calderon then covered up the discrepancy by removing the cash revenue from the paper copies of the Excel sheets saved for the annual audit that comes at the end of June or beginning of July, according to the affidavit of probable cause obtained by BreakingAC.

The box ready for the 2022 audit was found behind Calderon's desk in the Building and Housing Department, according to the affidavit.

Surveillance footage shows Calderon bringing documentation from the Building and Housing Department to the Finance Office on the second floor in City Hall at the end of her shifts, the affidavit states.

When the paper copies were compared to the original computer copy, it shows the cash revenue was removed from the paper copy for the year 2022.

Further review found $91,199 was misappropriated dating to 2021, the affidavit claims.

The Prosecutor's Office put the amount at more than $75,000, without releasing an exact amount.

Suspicions were first raised June 16, sparking the joint investigation by the Prosecutor's Office Professional Standards & Accountability Unit and Ventnor police.

Three days later, Police Chief Joe Fussner announced that the city's Code Enforcement Department was under investigation.

All of the charges are second-degree.

Calderon was charged on summonses and is not jailed.

author

Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Sunday, June 16, 2024
STEWARTVILLE
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