Ex-superintendent sent to prison for stealing $240,000 from Wall district
The former superintendent of Wall Township schools has been sentenced to five years in prison, after being convicted of stealing about $240,000 from the district, NJ Advance Media reports.
James Habel was convicted in March on a charge of official misconduct and four counts of falsifying or tampering with records, after cashing in more than 100 days of unused time improperly, the report says. He won't be eligible for parole until he's finished serving five years on the misconduct charge; one-year sentences on each of the records changes will be served concurrently.
He also will have to forfeit his pension benefits, and will not be able to hold public office in New Jersey again, the report saus.
"This defendant decided for whatever reason, for himself ... that he could engage in this conduct over a sustained period of time and that he did not have to answer to anyone," the report quotes Superior Court Judge Ronald Reisner saying. "There's a strong need to deter this defendant in particular, and all defendants who hold public office, not to engage in this type of conduct."
As reported by New Jersey 101.5 at the time, police first raised Habel's home for more than six hours in September of 2012. Habel had spent the last six months of his contract on medical leave, and then took his retirement in June of 2012, when his contract expired.
The next year, he was hit with a slew of charges, accused at the time of fleecing $360,000 from the district and mortgage fraud of more than $1 million. He was also accused of playing a part in covering up an alleged sex abuse of a special needs student — though he was never indicted in connection with that accusation.