FREEHOLD — A former administrator of the Neptune-based Affordable Housing Alliance has been sentenced to five years in prison for steal nearly $450,000 from the non-profit real estate developer.
Debra Agresti, 59, of Long Branch, pleaded guilty in January 2020 to a charge of theft which carried a five to 10 year prison sentence.
She admitted to making unauthorized purchases of gift cards, which were used to cover living expenses, tuition and vacations.
From August 2012 to March 2019, Agresti, then the housing alliance’s administrative director, purchased the gift cards with the organization’s credit card, authorities said.
In order to hide her thefts, Agresti intercepted monthly credit card statements and created fake invoices for the amounts she had spent on gift cards, claiming they were office supplies, the report said. Monmouth County Attorney’s Office in a statement.
Agresti stole $449,514.22 during that six-and-a-half-year period. No one else was involved, authorities said.
After sentencing her to state prison on Friday, Superior Court Judge Richard W. English, sitting in Freehold, ordered Agresti to pay restitution of $446,514.22.
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The alliance offers rental and home ownership assistance, mortgage and foreclosure advice, utility assistance and home buying training for income earners low and medium in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
The Affordable Housing Alliance first hired Agresti as an administrative assistant in 2007.
In 2018, the company’s internal accounts department found evidence of possible fraud and contacted authorities, according to the housing alliance.
Corporate insurance covered all stolen money, Donna Blaze, then-CEO of the alliance, said in 2020.
Ken Serrano covers crime, breaking news, investigations and local issues. Contact him at [email protected]