Police & Fire

No Jail for Hunterdon Couple in $70K Public Benefits Scam

Credits: Curtis Leeds / TAPinto Flemington file photo

FLEMINGTON, NJ – A Hunterdon couple who filed phony claims for Social Security and other benefits will avoid jail time if they comply with the terms of their five-year probation.

Judge Angela F. Borkowski approved the plea deal yesterday, which also requires the couple to pay $70,000 in restitution to the county, according to a press release from Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III.

Christopher Pennetta, 52, and his wife, Catherine Pennetta, 57, both of Pittstown, were arrested in 2016 after an eigh- month investigation revealed they submitted misleading applications for social services and Social Security benefits going back to March of 2014.

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The pair also failed to file and pay income taxes in 2014 and 2015, according to the statement.

The Pennettas also ran a home improvement business from their home without the proper registration in 2015 and 2016., Kearns said. Their  indictments were handed down by a Hunterdon Grand Jury about a year ago.

In November, the Pennettas both pled guilty to third-degree theft by deception for the fraudulent applications to Hunterdon’s Division of Social Services.

Their arrests followed a joint investigation by detectives from Kearns’ office; Office of the Inspector General-Social Security Administration; state Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation; State Police Kingwood Barracks; Hunterdon County Division of Adult Protective Services; and the Hunterdon County Department of Human Services.

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