FREEHOLD – The former chief financial officer of a low-income housing high-rise in Long Branch has been charged with stealing more than $1.6 million from his former employer over the span of more than 14 years, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Thursday.

John O’Donnell, 57, of Scotch Plains (Union County) has been charged with second-degree Theft by Unlawful Taking, third-degree Forgery, and third-degree False Uttering.

An investigation into O’Donnell’s activities by the MCPO Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau was initiated in June 2023, after the company that owns Washington Manor, which manages 100 housing units for seniors and disabled individuals on the 300 block of Ocean Boulevard, took note of a $14,000 life-insurance payout to O’Donnell, prompting an internal audit.

The investigation determined that from February 2009 into May 2023, O’Donnell issued approximately 400 unauthorized checks from company accounts to a construction firm he owned, totaling in excess of $1.6 million, many containing the forged signature of a Washington Manor employee; he used the stolen funds for personal expenses such as mortgage payments. From December 2020 to May 2023, O’Donnell also used a Washington Manor credit card for unauthorized personal purchases, such as home renovations, pool services, and HVAC repair, totaling in excess of $30,000.  

O’Donnell was charged via summons earlier today pending a first appearance in Monmouth County Superior Court scheduled to take place on Tuesday, February 20.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Lawrence Nelsen, Director of the MCPO Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau. Information about O’Donnell’s legal representation was not immediately available.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.