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Hackensack woman agrees to begin repaying former Teaneck boss stolen $117,410

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

ONLY ON CVP: A Hackensack woman must give at least $250 a month to her former employer until she repays $117,410 that she admitted stealing from him, or she goes to jail.

Kimberly Leitholf, 40, told a judge in Hackensack yesterday that she withdrew the money using an ATM card she had access to as the perseonal assistant of Stephen Cohen, principle officer of Middle East Regional Development in Teaneck.

The monthly payment plan was ordered by Superior Court Judge James J. Guida, who will sentence Leitholf on July 11. It lasts for five years, after which a civil judgment will be entered for the balance — which, by that time, would still be well over $100,000.

“Restitution is a critical component of the plea,” Guida said. Without it, he said, “I am not inclined to uphold the deal.”

At the same time, the judge conceded that Cohen likely won’t get much back.

Cohen attended the plea, along with his wife and daughter.

When defense attorney Ian Silvera offered an apology on Leitholf’s behalf following the court appearance, his daughter said the family was most distressed over the betrayal by a person they considered a friend.

“It’s a lot of money,” Cohen himself said.

Leitholf — also known as Kimberly Bergeron — ran into “financial hardships,” and ultimately lost her home, leading to the thefts, Silvera told the judge moments earlier.

Although unemployed, Leitholf said that she intends to find “as good a job as I can,” using a graduate degree and experience working as an accountant. Her husband is a plumber.

An indictment returned by a grand jury in Hackensack last June says Leitholf, who had a prior drug conviction, took the money over a three-year period before it was discovered in January 2013.

The plea deal was worked out over two days, including several hours yesterday.

It requires Leitholf to pay the full $117,409.50 to reduce her crime to a third-degree offense and avoid at least 364 days in the county jail.

STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

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