Albert Coutinho, the former state Assemblyman whose district included the Ironbound section of Newark and Belleville, was sentenced Thursday to three years’ probation for stealing funds from his family’s charitable foundation and for filing phony disclosure forms, acting state Attorney General John Hoffman announced.
The 44-year-old former lawmaker resigned from the Legislature last month as part of a plea negotiation with the state, and also pleaded guilty to to a third-degree theft charge and a fourth-degree charge of tampering with public records.
As part of his sentence, Coutinho, who had served in the Legislature since 2008 until his resignation, will also be required to perform 50 hours of community service and pay $32,500 in restitution.
Between 2008 and 2012, Coutinho siphoned off donations to the Bernardino Coutinho Foundation, which used to run the popular Portuguese Day Festival in the Ironbound until 2009.
Investigators said Coutinho personally cashed checks totaling about $32,500 in donations and contributions to the family’s foundation at a check cashing business.“When a public official engages in criminal conduct involving dishonesty, as Mr. Coutinho did, the law rightly demands that he forfeit his public office,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Any official who commits such a crime does so at the peril of the criminal law and of his career in public office.”