A former staffer for U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) today admitted using, without authorization, the seal of the House of Representatives in connection with falsified letters written on the member’s congressional letterhead, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Patrick Sheehan, 29, of West Milford, pleaded guilty during a videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer to an information charging him with the unauthorized use of the seal of the United States House of Representatives.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Sheehan was employed in the Newton office of a member of Gottheimer from February 2018 to August 2019. As a staff member, he had access to the member’s official letterhead, which contained the likeness of the seal of the United States House of Representatives.
In July 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Sheehan falsified and mailed to various recipients a series of letters. The first letters purported to be from another employee of the member and contained false information regarding the member and that employee. The employee did not create, approve, or sign those letters. Sheehan then falsified multiple copies of a letter on the member’s official letterhead purporting to be from the member. That letter, which the member did not create, approve, or sign, responded to the false information in the employee letters, and also contained false information. The phony letters that Sheehan created and distributed contained the likeness of the seal of the House of Representatives, the feds said.
Sheehan faces a maximum potential penalty of six months in prison, five years of probation, and a fine of $5,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 29, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents with the U.S. Capitol Police, under the direction of Chief of Police Steven A. Sund, inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James Buthorn, and special agents with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cari Fais of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.