Widespread fraud has been found among New Jersey school district employees and their families who written false applications so their kids could get free lunches. At least 109 public employees have been found so far, with a total of under-reported income at $13 million.

The names are being referred for criminal prosecution. IT all started when widespread fraud was found in the Elizabeth Board of Education School District. In that case, lies on applications were submitted by 40 Elizabeth district employees, including elected board members in Pleasantville, Newark, and Paterson.

Law enforcement officials appear to be zealously pursuing justice in the case of a former school board member, Juan Donoso and his wife. He is accused of official misconduct. He has applied to a pre-trial intervention program that may result in probation and having the charges dismissed upon fulfillment of the program. This program is often available to those who are accused of “minor” crimes or first-time offenders.

Evidently, Donoso went to two Elizabeth district lawyers, Board attorney Kirk Nelson and attorney Frank Capece, after he learned that investigators were seeking applications to the lunch program that is federally funded. Donoso said that his wife had filed a false application. The lawyers removed the application, and are also now facing charges.

Meantime, Donoso’s wife, also charged, has been accepted into the pre-trial intervention program and has paid $1700.84 to pay back the lunch program.


The Law Office of Mallon and Tranger protects the rights of those accused of crimes and those who have been injured due to the carelessness or negligence of another. We have offices in Ocean County or Monmouth County. Our lawyers can be reached by phone at 732-702-0333 or by filling out the intake form.