SUPERIOR COURT — The former treasurer of a volunteer-run county youth sports program accused of stealing thousands from the organization last year has been offered a probationary plea deal.
Justine Lynn, 42, of Franklin Borough, who served as treasurer and cheer coordinator for the Wallkill Valley Youth Football and Cheerleading program, appeared for a hearing Monday in front of Judge Louis S. Sceusi.
Assistant Prosecutor Rachelle Jones placed a plea deal on the record, offering Lynn up to five years probation, 100 hours of community service and restitution "in the $30,000 range.“ She would be required to plead guilty to the third-degree theft charge.
Several components have been at play in the case, which has gone unresolved until Lynn was indicted in January to a single count of third-degree theft, a year after her arrest. Among those components is the amount of restitution Lynn would owe back to the organization, which offers youth sports programs to children in Hamburg, Franklin, Hardyston and Ogdensburg.
The amount Jones placed on the record was nearly double the amount police say Lynn had stolen from the organization. In an affidavit from Lynn’s arrest, Hardyston police indicated that Lynn, who was the only member who had access to the program’s checkbook and debit card, withdrew a total of $15,353.60. Lynn admitted she used the funds for her personal use, police said.
The New Jersey statute for a theft in the third-degree constitutes items worth more than $500 and up to $75,000.
Lynn’s attorney, Martin Morrison, said he has obtained a forensic accountant to “look into the financial issues” in the case and indicated that there are “issues in regard to restitution” which are subject to the accountant’s findings.
Morrison said that while the State is not offering a pretrial intervention program plea deal, he “strongly suggested” Lynn apply for the program. The program offers first-time offenders — Lynn has no prior criminal record, according to court documents — the ability to undergo rehabilitative services, and after a period of time between one and three years, all charges will be dismissed.
No motions are anticipated in the case, Morrison said.
Lynn’s arrest came after two members of the program’s board of directors, one of whom was board president, went to police headquarters on Jan. 29, 2019 to report multiple unauthorized transactions were made from two accounts linked to the organization, police have said.
Following the alleged theft of funds, the program, which is also called the Wallkill Valley Junior Rangers, struggled to pay bills and keep the program adrift. In April 2019, the Sparta Youth Football Program — their rivals on the field — stepped in and paid Wallkill’s on-field lighting bill.
Lynn is expected to appear back in court on May 4.
Lori Comstock can also be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.