Brooklyn man accused of stealing $194K grant from Bergen County food pantry

  • In US
  • 2022-09-29 22:15:24Z
  • By The Bergen Record

A Brooklyn man was arrested Tuesday on allegations that he stole a check for more than $194,000 in public funding meant to subsidize a local homelessness prevention program, according to Bergen County officials.

Adriano Averzano, 39, was charged with theft, money laundering, identity theft and conspiracy offenses after investigators traced a check cut from Bergen County's social services trust fund to a series of phony bank accounts, which prosecutors claim Averzano controlled.

"We didn't know what happened to it," Patricia Espy, Executive Director of the Center for Food Action, said of the stolen funds, which her organization receives from the county each year to help New Jersey residents avoid eviction, move to more affordable apartments, or pay past-due utility bills.

As soon as it was discovered the check had been deposited into an account in New York, the county immediately issued a new one and no services were disrupted, Espy said, appreciative of the county's quick work.

Authorities allege Averzano stole the check from the mail in June, and along with unnamed co-conspirators, used the name and personal information of someone aligned with the non-profit to set up a fake account where the check was deposited, according to an affidavit filed with Central Municipal Court in Hackensack.

Once he had the money, he withdrew tens of thousands of dollars and dispersed the remaining funds among other accounts he controlled, all opened in the names of shell companies that he had concocted, the document states.

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Averzano was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 12, according to prosecutors and a complaint filed with the court.

The Center for Food Action is a non-profit based in Englewood with sites across the state that provide emergency food packages and homelessness prevention assistance to low-income individuals and families in New Jersey.

A county spokesperson said the check was one the county cuts annually to subsidize the group's programs.

This article originally appeared on NY man allegedly steals $194K grant for NJ homeless services


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