UPDATE: Former Newark Pastor, West Orange Resident Admits Stealing Over $700K from South Plainfield Company

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced that a man from West Orange has pleaded guilty to money laundering and insurance fraud for stealing approximately $700,000 when he was a bookkeeper for a South Plainfield company.

According to authorities, Robert Keith, 47, of West Orange, pleaded guilty during a hearing in New Brunswick before Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. to one count of first-degree money laundering and one count of third-degree insurance fraud.

Under a plea agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christine D’Elia, the defendant faces a term of 14-years in a New Jersey state prison; the plea agreement calls for a 10-year prison term with a 4-year period of ineligibility of parole for the money laundering, and a consecutive term of 4-years in state prison for the insurance fraud.

In addition, the defendant will be required to forfeit his two vehicles, a 2005 BMW W5 and a 2008 Mercedes S550, which were purchased with the illegal proceeds, to the victim. Keith also agreed to pay restitution for $710,000, which he stole from the plumbing, heating and air conditioning company.

Officials say he is scheduled to be sentenced in New Brunswick by Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr., on Aug. 17th.

According to authorities, Keith, who worked as a bookkeeper for the South Plainfield plumbing, heating and air conditioning company, was arrested on March 25, 2017 after an investigation by Detective Joseph Glowacki of the South Plainfield Police Department and Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

The investigation began after company officials discovered the thefts and contacted police.

During the investigation, it was determined that the defendant, between February 1, 2015, and February 7, 2017, wrote unauthorized checks from the company’s accounts and made illegal credit card purchases, which included the two vehicles. Keith also used a company credit card to pay his automobile insurance policy premium.

In addition, it was determined that Keith funneled money into a house of worship in Newark where he served as a minister.

Keith was the Pastor of New Ebenezer Baptist Church.