The former superintendent of the Wall Township (N.J.) schools has been sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of official misconduct and other offenses.
NJ.com reports that James Habel received the prison term in Monmouth County Superior Court, several months after a jury found him guilty of one charge of official misconduct and four counts of falsifying or tampering with records.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Habel bilked the school district out of about $240,000 by cashing in more than 100 unused sick and vacation days that he should not have had, fudging his vehicle mileage, and reporting that he was working or on jury duty when in fact he was often in Florida.
Following the sentence, Wall Township School Board President Eric Brophy issued a statement harshly criticizing Habel for the damage he had done to the district.
"Habel’s outrageous conduct resulted from a decade long plot to lie, manipulate records, and threaten employees in effort to defraud our schools," Brophy said. "His conduct damaged the reputation of Wall’s schools and set our district’s educational efforts back several years."
In response to Habel's misconduct, Brophy said, the Wall Township district has put systems in place to prevent it from recurring, such as improved hiring practices, added fiscal protocols and a demand for greater accountability from administrators and employees.
"We are now better equipped to identify and address any improprieties at an earlier stage," Brophy said.