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RED BANK: YASSIN CHARGED WITH THEFT

hazim-yassin-100518-500x375-8449099Then-Councilman Hazim Yassin at a Red Bank Education Foundation fundraiser at the Red Bank Elks Club in 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_02-220x137-6360205Former Red Bank Councilman Hazim Yassin has been charged with stealing more than $7,600 from the Red Bank Borough Education Foundation, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said Monday.

hazim-yassin-081617-3-500x375-6067362Yassin speaking at a social justice rally in 2017, above. Below, seated at right, Yassin chatted with Mayor Pasquale Menna and merchant Anthony Barbera on Broadwalk in 2020. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

menna-barbera-yassin-070320-2-220x168-5336073According to an announcement by Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey, Yassin is alleged to have diverted $7,650 from the nonprofit’s account over two years.

The purported theft included four diversions of funds in 2020, “when the foundation was inactive due to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Here’s the full announcement: MCPO Yassin charged 050922

Yassin, 32 years old, declined comment, referring redbankgreen to his attorney, former assistant prosecutor Bob Honecker.

Honecker, of the Ansell Grimm & Aaron firm, told redbankgreen that Yassin has “donated thousand of hours and thousands of dollars” to RBBEF, and “never intentionally diverted any funds” from the organization.

Yassin will “vigorously contest the charges,” Honecker said.

According to the MCPO announcement, an investigation by the Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau was initiated earlier this year, after the RBBEF “performed a financial audit and identified a series of unauthorized withdrawals from its bank account that could not be reconciled – including four made in 2020, when the foundation was inactive due to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It continued:

The investigation showed that at the time of the withdrawals, Yassin had served as treasurer of the nonprofit, which funds educational opportunities in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics for local low-income and/or disadvantaged students. A review of financial records revealed that Yassin was responsible for the withdrawals, which totaled $7,650, and reference to some of them was missing from the nonprofit’s treasury reports.

According to an MCPO spokesman, the charges – third-degree theft by unlawful taking –  “were served today [Monday] via summons.”

Honecker said Yassin had voluntarily appeared at the prosecutor’s office to receive the summons. He’s expected to make his first appearance in court June 21, Honecker said.

Yassin, elected to the council as a Democrat in 2018 with running mate Kate Triggiano, served a single term. He lost a bid for a second in the 2021 primary, coming in third, after newcomer Jacqueline Sturdivant and Triggiano. Both Sturdivant and Triggiano won council seats in the November general election.

Just days after the end of his term, Yassin was evicted from his Branch Avenue apartment for non-payment of rent.

At the time, he owed the landlord, the Molly Pitcher Apartments, more than $32,000, a sum that began accumulating shortly before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, 2020, according to court documents.

Yassin had leased the apartment, his first residence in the borough, in September, 2017, just 14 months before he was elected to the council.

The MCPO identified Yassin’s current place of residence as the Lincroft section of Middletown.

Foundation president and former councilman Mark Taylor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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