UPDATE: The state Senate has approved the business incentive package in a vote early this afternoon. The bill is expected to get Gov. Christopher Christie’s swift approval. The bill approved Thursday is the same one approved earlier this week by the Aseembly after changes that were sought by the governor before he would sign it, including deletion of a provision that required payment of “prevailing wages” at incentivized development sites.


The Original Story Appears Below



TRENTON, NJ-Former Newark Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, who resigned his post Wednesday, today plead guilty to the theft of funds from his family’s charitable foundation and lying on financial disclosure forms.

The Attorney General‘s office made the announcement. The Democratic legislator was the Assembly sponsor of the business tax-incentive package that was approved by the Assembly after a long battle earlier this week.

The Economic Opportunity Act, which revamps previous development incentive programs, comes up for a Senate vote this afternoon and is expected to pass and receive the governor’s approval.

According to prosecutors, Coutinho admitted to misappropriating donations to the Bernardino Coutinho Foundation between 2008 and 2012. They said Coutinho cashed checks for about $32,500 in donations and contributions to the foundation. Coutinho admitted to diverting the donations for personal use.

In addition, the legislator did not specify the income on Assembly disclosure forms.

Under a plea agreement, said Attorney General John Hoffman, the state will recommend that Coutinho receive probation and be required to make full restitution to the foundation