Minister Told to Surrender His Social-work License

By Erik Larsen
Asbury Park Press

August 13, 2008

Cops: He took $200,000 from incapacitated

TOMS RIVER A Presbyterian minister who oversaw the financial affairs of incapacitated individuals and was later accused of stealing their money has been ordered to surrender his license to practice social work and to be admitted to a pretrial intervention program.

"This is a big one for us," declared Ocean County Surrogate Jeffrey W. Moran Tuesday after receiving Superior Court Judge Barbara Ann Villano's written order, dated Monday.

In 2006, the Rev. Brian C. Swedberg, 53, of Toms River was indicted on 17 counts of theft, three counts of false swearing, two counts of contempt of court and one count of misapplication of entrusted property.

Authorities have said Swedberg stole more than $200,000 from 20 people whose financial affairs he was appointed to oversee.

Of those people, 19 were incapacitated senior citizens, and one was a juvenile over whose trust fund Swedberg had legal oversight.

Swedberg had been appointed guardian of the affairs of various incapacitated people by the surrogate's office beginning in 1994. Moran took office as surrogate in 2003 and soon after became suspicious of Swedberg because it appeared he had been commingling funds.

With that, Moran directed members of his staff forensic accountant Carole Hedinger and staff attorney Gregory J. Hock to review the books of all of Swedberg's guardianships. At the time, Investigator Mark Malinowski of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office also took part in the probe.

The Probate Court removed Swedberg from all fiduciary offices held at the time, including guardianship of 11 individuals and administrator of two decedent's estates. All accountings submitted to the court by Swedberg for approval were held pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

"This is a big one because it represents so much of what we've been attempting to do here," Moran said. "It's heart-wrenching sometimes when you do this. . . . Our primary objective here, since I've become surrogate, has been to protect those who are the most vulnerable and can't protect themselves."

Swedberg was associate pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Toms River in the 1980s. At the time of his arrest, he was owner and director of the Christian Counseling Center and Guardian Eldercare Management.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.