LACEY — A volunteer first responder, who was also a police dispatcher, has admitted to stealing thousands of dollars from his EMS group’s account, spending it at restaurants, pharmacies and auto stores.

Matthew Bender, 33, of Lacey Township, pleaded guilty to theft in Ocean County Superior Court on Tuesday.

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He faces probation when sentenced on Dec. 7 and also will have to pay back the $4,690 he stole from Lanoka Harbor Emergency Medical Service, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.

Bender had transferred the money from the LHEMS PayPal account to his own personal account and spent it between April 2020 and this past March.

He also must resign from his job as a dispatcher with the Lacey Township Police Department and will not be allowed to hold any public office or state employment.

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