FREEHOLD (AP) — A former school superintendent convicted of cheating his district out of roughly $240,000 has lost his bid for a new trial.


James Habel (Frank Galipo, Patch of Wall)

A Monmouth County jury convicted James Habel on official misconduct and other charges in March. But the panel also deadlocked on some of the most serious counts against the former Wall Township schools chief.

Habel's lawyer, Robert Honecker Jr., told the Asbury Park Press that a state Superior Court judge recently denied his request for a new trial in his misconduct case. The judge also refused to throw out Habel's criminal conviction.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled for Habel, who faces at least five years in prison on the official misconduct count.

During the trial, county prosecutors argued that Habel had bilked the district out of roughly $240,000 by improperly cashing in more than 100 unused sick and vacation days.

He was convicted on one count of official misconduct and multiple counts of falsifying or tampering with records. But jurors acquitted Habel of theft by failure to make required disposition of property.

The jury couldn't reach a verdict on a second official misconduct count, as well as charges of theft by deception and financial facilitation. It's not yet clear if Habel will face another trial on those counts.

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