Former Newark Pastor Sentenced for Money Laundering, Insurance Fraud
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced that a man from West Orange was sentenced today to serve 14 years in prison for 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 and a Newark pastor of the New Ebenezer Baptist Church at 119 Camden Street was sentenced to 14 years in a New Jersey state prison.
Police say Keith received two consecutive terms; 10 years with a 4-year period of ineligibility of parole for money laundering in the first degree, and a consecutive term of 4 years in state prison for insurance fraud in the third degree.
Officials say at today’s sentencing, Keith handed over the titles of the 2005 BMX X5 and a 2008 Mercedes S550, which were purchased with the illegal proceeds, to the victims. In addition, Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr., ordered the defendant to pay restitution in the amount of $710,000, which he stole from the plumbing, heating and air conditioning company.
The sentence was imposed after Keith pleaded guilty on June 11, 2018, in accordance with a plea agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christine D’Elia, to one count of first degree money laundering and one count of third degree insurance fraud.
Police say Keith, who worked as a bookkeeper for a 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 determined that Keith, 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.
The prosecution of insurance fraud is part of the Attorney General’s statewide insurance fraud crackdown through its County Prosecutor Insurance Fraud Reimbursement Program.
In addition, it was determined that Keith funneled money into a house of worship in Newark where he served as a minister.