Newark Federal Court

A Jersey City man was sentenced today to 24 months in federal prison in connection with the theft of $594 thousand in phones and tablets from the Newark Housing Authority.

According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, Venancio Diaz, 57, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti in Newark federal court. Diaz had previously pleaded guilty to the charge of committing theft from an agency receiving federal funds.

Diaz used his position as director of information technology for the Newark Housing Authority (NHA) to embezzle NHA funds to purchase cellular telephones and other electronic devices.

Documents filed in this case and statements made in court indicate that from December 2013 to August 2021, Diaz used his position as director of information technology for the NHA to buy devices, including 1,509 cellular telephones and tablets, which he later sold, pocketing the money for himself.  Diaz purchased the devices on behalf of NHA using NHA funds.

Diaz’s scheme involved receiving the devices and activating them for a short period of time on NHA’s account. Once the brief activation period ended, Diaz posed as the owner of the devices and sold them to two different online electronics resale marketplaces. Diaz directed all the proceeds of the sales – a total of $594,425 – to his own bank accounts and kept the money for his own personal use.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Martinotti sentenced Diaz to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $594,425 in restitution to the NHA. Diaz also previously consented to a $594,425 money judgment, forfeiting the monies he obtained as a result of his illegal scheme, and also agreed to forfeit electronic devices belonging to NHA that were seized by law enforcement or otherwise in his possession, including 27 cellular telephones.