SADDLE BROOK, N.J. -- A Saddle Brook cemetery worker from Garfield avoided prison by agreeing to repay nearly $275,000 that she helped a now-dead accomplice steal from grieving survivors for plots and crypts.
After making a $10,000 deposit, Kathy Barbier must pay $500 a month -- which gives her 45 years to clear the debt -- under a plea deal her lawyer negotiated with prosecutors.
Barbier didn’t get any of the money siphoned off by Denise J. D’Agostino, also of Garfield, the former director of St. Mary's Cemetery, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Brian Lynch said Friday.
But the 43-year-old bookkeeper knew about it and covered for her, he said.
“Barbier didn’t benefit, but she didn’t stop the thefts,” Lynch said.
Defense attorney Amy Lefkowitz caller her client a woman of modest means. D’Agostino was her boss, and she was under her influence, the lawyer said Friday in Superior Court in Hackensack.
“She felt trapped,” Lefkowitz said. “She chose the wrong path and she knows it.”
D’Agostino was still facing charges with Barbier when she died in a fire in her parent’s Garfield home late last March. That left Barbier responsible for full restitution.
This didn’t sit well with Superior Court Judge Margaret M. Foti, who said it didn’t seem fair that no money could be recovered from D’Agostino’s estate.
Lynch later told Daily Voice that D’Agostino left no significant assets.
“My client understands this isn’t just about money,” said Lefkowitz, the defense lawyer. “Since they were dealing with bereaved families, the thefts impacted people in a very tragic and emotional way."
Under the terms of the plea deal, the judge sentenced Barbier Friday to five years probation.
Barbier submitted a $10,000 check made payable to the Archdiocese of Paterson; the remainder of the monthly $500 payments will be made to the Chubb Insurance Company.
The $10,000 represents the amount of the Archdiocese’s insurance deductible.
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