A Lacey Township man has learned a hard lesson about stealing money that you have been entrusted with overseeing.

It sounds like Matthew Bender had a pretty good thing going. He was a well-respected member of the Lacey Township public service community.

Bender was a police dispatcher for the Lacey Township Police Department and a volunteer with the Lanoka Harbor Emergency Medical Service where he had a lifetime membership with the emergency medical service. He also handled the digital responsibilities for LHEMS, maintaining their website.

But, it was his oversight of the LHEMS PayPal account that got him into trouble.

Bender got caught transferring money from the EMS PayPal account into his own account. The money had come from donations to the emergency medical service and from grants that the EMS had secured to help in their operation.

According to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, an investigation showed Bender stole almost $5000 of the money for his own use.

Further investigation revealed that the grant money was disbursed to the LHEMS PayPal account managed by Bender, and that approximately $4700 was transferred from the LHEMS PayPal account to Bender’s personal PayPal account. The investigation exposed numerous purchases by Bender - in small denominations - for various restaurants, pharmacies, and auto stores, confirming that the funds were not used for the benefit of the LHEMS. It was determined that Bender misappropriated these monies for personal use.

Bender pleaded guilty to stealing the money back in December, and, in a condition for probation, he has to pay all the money back and he forfeits his lifetime membership to the Lanoka Harbor Emergency Medical Service, resigns from his position with the Lacey Township Police Department, and forfeits any future job or office with the State of New Jersey.

He lost the all things that he liked to do and he is saddled with the embarrassment of being an admitted thief, all for $4700, which he has to pay back. That's a sad story.

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