Ex-PAL Treasurer Kenneth Kohler, 44, of Lake Hiawatha, gave a "conditional" guilty plea to theft from the nonprofit organization between 2000 and April 2005, and was admitted by Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto into Morris County's Pre-Trial Intervention program for first-time offenders.
In May, then-Prosecutor Michael M. Rubbinaccio was adamant that Kohler
be barred from PTI and the plea offers extended to Kohler
ranged from 180 days in the county jail to three years in state prison.
...Kohler gave a generalized account of the crime to the judge, saying only that between 2000, and April 2005, he took $8,665 he was not entitled to while serving as PAL treasurer.
Several months ago, Kohler repaid the $8,665, which he
has never publicly explained why he
pocketed.While on PTI, he
must serve three years' probation, perform 50 hours of community service, and can never hold a job or volunteer in a capacity similar to the position he
held for the PAL
Authorities said that Kohler
issued fake checks in the names of four PAL referees and deposited them into five separate personal accounts he
set up.When he
was under investigation, he
allegedly tried to impede detectives by asking a witness to lie for him.
Defense lawyer Gerard Hanlon had tried previously to get Kohler
into PTI, saying it would help him land a job and get a fresh start if he
could keep a clean record.
Since the theft charges were filed, Kohler
has lost two jobs, his
wife wants a divorce, and he
is struggling to raise two small children.