HILLSIDE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Hillside, N.J., man has been charged with extortion, after allegedly claiming a woman’s son had committed a crime and demanding $10,000 to keep the alleged victim’s family from going to police.
Lee Toucheque, 62, was arrested Friday morning, and charged with third-degree theft by extortion, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said.
A Berkeley Heights woman contacted prosecutors earlier this month, saying a man had called her home on Feb. 5 and claimed her son had committed a crime, prosecutors said. The caller, who turned out to be Toucheque, claimed he was acting on behalf of the alleged victim’s family, and said they would not contact police if the woman made a $10,000 to a non-profit called the Burlington County Taxpayers’ Association, prosecutors said.
Toucheque called the woman two more times the next day, at which point the woman called prosecutors.
That evening, Toucheque showed up at the woman’s house to collect the money. An undercover officer posing as the woman handed him an envelope, and he gave the officer a receipt from the Burlington County Taxpayers’ Association with his signature, prosecutors said.
Meanwhile, as prosecutors investigated, they could not find any evidence that the woman’s son had committed a crime or that there was any victim. But they did find evidence that the Burlington County Taxpayers’ Association is based at Toucheque’s home and that he runs the organization.
“This defendant was a fraud and sought to profit on lies,” Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow said in a news release. “It is unclear why he targeted this family.”
Toucheque works as a school transportation driver, and was arrested at work on Friday, prosecutors said.
He will appear in court in the days to come, prosecutors said.
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