TRENTON — A New Jersey assemblyman accused of writing nearly $400,000 in bad checks to two investors from his military contracting business accounts is blaming the poor economy for his financial and legal problems.
“We’re having tough business times like everybody else,” Robert Schroeder told The Record newspaper.
Schroeder, 52, is a Republican from Washington Township in Bergen County. He is the founder and president of All Points International Distributors, which sells tents and other structures to the federal government, and also operates Hercules Global Logistics. Both businesses are based in Hillsdale.
Schroeder told the newspaper that he wrote checks to two suppliers and those checks bounced. Schroeder says he wrote them assuming that several thousand dollars the Army owed him for a contract had been wired into the account. He disputed the state’s allegations that the checks were for $400,000 and said they totaled about $100,000 and that he has paid the debts.
“I made a mistake. I apologize,” Schroeder told the newspaper. “I’m responsible for my actions. It’s a sad day for my family.”
Schroeder was charged Friday with a single count of writing bad checks. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine. Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said the allegations have nothing to do with Schroeder’s elected office.
Schroeder, a former volunteer fire chief who sought the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2005, was first elected to the Assembly in 2009 and represents the state’s 39th Legislative District. He has not been one of the more vocal members of the Legislature in his relatively short time there, though he does serve as the deputy Republican whip.
Chiesa said the bad checks were written to two investors between July 2011 and last month. Their names were not disclosed. He said others who invested with Schroeder’s companies could have been harmed and he asked that they contact authorities.
Recently, Schroeder was having business difficulty with the federal government.
The federal Government Accountability Office found the company’s past performance to be unacceptable and cited that as reason to pass over it for a contract last year to provide tents for an Army unit in Afghanistan, even though Schroeder’s business submitted a lower bid than competitors.
In December 2011, the GAO denied All Points International’s appeal of that designation. All Points contended that the determination was based on one bad incident even though the company had successfully fulfilled other contracts for the government.
Also, public records show that Schroeder has had financial difficulties and has been sued for debts.