TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey state treasury employee has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $75,000 by processing and approving fraudulent claims filed on behalf of her relatives and friends.

Stephanie Hargrove pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking. The 39-year-old Willingboro resident served as a principal claims investigator, processing claims for damages filed against the state.

Authorities say the false claims were processed during a five-year period. They say Hargrove processed or approved numerous claims filed in the names of relatives, friends and acquaintances and submitted phony documents to back them up.

Under a plea agreement, the state will recommend that she be sentenced to three years in prison. She will also have to pay full restitution, forfeit her job and be barred from public employment.

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