$460,000 in Quarters: NJ Gov’t Employee Confesses to Theft
One New Jersey man obviously took his coin-collecting hobby a little too far.
Government employee Thomas Rica pleaded guilty to four counts of third-degree theft on Wednesday.
The 43-year-old admitted to the Hackensack Supreme Court that he had stolen at least $460,000 in quarters while working in Ridgewood village as a public works inspector.
He was initially arrested in 2013 after a fellow employee discovered that there were quarters missing from the village’s parking meter coin-collection room.
Rica-who makes $86,000 a year-was eventually charged with stealing $500 worth of quarters and terminated from his government job.
However, after extensive investigation, authorities determined that Rica had stolen a lot more than they originally thought.
According to NorthJersey.com, village officials confirmed:
“Rica did not have authorization to enter the meter-collection room but used a master key he was given “due to the nature of his position” to gain repeated access to it. Ridgewood collected $800,000 in quarters from meters in 2013.”
It’s unclear how often Rica swiped quarters from the storage room, but local officials said that they were disappearing progressively, several times a week.
To avoid getting caught, Rica apparently did not deposit the money all at once and instead used coin machines at different bank locations in the area. The quarters were deposited into his personal bank accounts over a two-year duration.
Sources say that the stolen quarters weighed nearly 11.25 tons, which is equivalent to two million quarters.
Defense attorney, Robert Galantucci, said that although his client is a well-established worker, he couldn’t fight the temptation and decided to use the money to supplement his income. However, he apologizes for his actions and is now trying to get his life back on track.
As part of the plea deal, Rica will not serve time in prison. He is instead ordered to pay the money back over a five-year probation period.
Rica is also forbidden future employment in any other borough of New Jersey.
The quarter-thief and married father now works for his brother’s construction business.
The video below shows a similar story of a parking meter mechanic who stole quarters in Buffalo, N.Y. from 2003 to 2011:
Image via Wikimedia Commons