A grand jury indicted State Assemblyman Robert Schroeder Friday on charges that he stole $1.8 million and wrote bad checks valued at more than $3.4 million, according to Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa.
Schroeder, 52, was charged with issuing bad checks, theft by deception, and misconduct by a corporate official. He faces five to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $150,000 for each of the three offenses.
State officials allege Schroeder wrote at least 47 bad checks to 12 individuals for payments on loans they had given him for his businesses. The checks were worth a total of $3,431,150, but the bank accounts they were drawn from, in the names of businesses Schroeder controls, did not have sufficient funds, authorities said. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Schroeder since he was originally charged with writing bad checks to two investors in August.
Schroeder is also accused of stealing $1,887,000 from five individuals who believed they were investing in a housing project in North Dakota. He allegedly used the money for personal expenses.
“We allege that as the financial house of cards he built collapsed, Schroeder lied and stole in an attempt to prop it up, defrauding creditors of in excess of $5 million, between his theft of loan funds and passing of bad checks,” Chiesa said in a press release. “This indictment, which would carry a substantial prison sentence upon conviction, demonstrates that nobody is above the law.”
The Attorney General's Office also recently filed to which Schroeder allegedly used in the criminal scheme.
Several businesses owned by Schroeder have been named in the lawsuits and charges against him. Much of the focus has been on All Points International, a Hillsdale-based company which manufactures tents and other temporary structures. API has done most of its business with the military.
The U.S. Army has moved to ban Schroeder from doing business with the federal government because he allegely failed to deliver tents to a military base in Afghanistan and also allegedly failed to pay an Afghan subcontractor.
According to Chiesa, Schroeder began seeking loans when business with the Army dropped off. He allegedly wrote the 47 bogus checks over a period of less than three years.
In January, Schroeder also began searching for investors for the North Dakota project, according to Chiesa. He started another company, Hercules Global Logistics, which was supposed to supply the housing and other services for an oil drilling project there.
Schroeder is a Washington Township resident and representative of New Jersey's 39th District. He has been heavily involved in the community for years, volunteering as a member of the Washington Township Fire Department and serving on the township's council. He has also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican political campaigns over the past decade and once considered a run for governor. He was elected to the New Jersey Assembly in 2010.
Several of Schroeder's colleagues, including District 39 Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi and Senator Gerry Cardinale, Bergen County Republican Organization Chairman Bob Yudin and Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, called for Schroeder to resign his seat in light of the charges.
"I do not believe he can continue to properly serve his constituents while facing these serious charges," Bramnick said in a press release.
Schroeder could not be immediately reached for comment.