Skip to main content

Livingston Accountant Sentenced to 12 Years for Role in $700K Unemployment Scheme


Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Livingston accountant was sentenced to state prison today for orchestrating a scheme in which he and numerous co-defendants defrauded the state of nearly $700,000 by filing false claims for unemployment benefits.

Todd P. Halpern, 49, of Livingston, was sentenced to 12 years in state prison, including four years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Timothy P. Lydon in Mercer County.  Halpern pleaded guilty on Nov. 18, 2013 to first-degree money laundering and second-degree theft by deception. 

Halpern was ordered to pay more than $500,000 in restitution. Deputy Attorney General Anthony P. Torntore prosecuted Halpern and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau.  Halpern was indicted with 12 other defendants on June 11, 2013 as a result of “Operation April Fools,” a joint investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.  

In pleading guilty, Halpern admitted that, from October 2008 to May 2012, he orchestrated a scheme in which he and his co-defendants stole from the state by filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits. They stole a total of $694,606 as a result of 36 false claims.  The investigation revealed that Halpern filed unemployment insurance claims using identities stolen from clients, and filed fraudulent employment records in the names of businesses he served in order to support the claims. Halpern, who was never licensed as an accountant in New Jersey, used his fraud schemes to fund lavish expenditures, including season tickets to the New York Giants, purchases of jewelry, gold and silver, and purchases of high-end vehicles, including a Cadillac Escalade, Lexus GX-470 and classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air.

Of the 12 defendants indicted with Halpern, nine have pleaded guilty to theft by deception, including his father, George J. Halpern, 76, of Short Hills, who also is an accountant, and his father-in-law, Jack Chesner, 82, of Morris Plains. Those two men received sentences of probation. David Altman, 43, of Plainfield, was sentenced to three years in state prison, and two others, Augustin Gomez, 31, of Jersey City, and Henry Ford, 55, of Plainfield, received jail sentences of 364 days and six months, respectively.