Thomas Rica, a former public works inspector for the city of Ridgewood, NJ, was sentenced to five years probation after he stole $460,000 worth of quarters taken from parking meters. He stole the quarters over the course of two years from a storage room, and pled guilty to four counts of theft as part of a plea deal.
"I am sorry for what I have done," Rica told Judge Patrick Roma. "I am very sorry. I'm...I'm just sorry." As part of his plea deal, Rica will only have to pay back part of what he stole (his lawyer came with a check for $64,337.55 today, his down payment). From CBS New York:
Under the plea deal, Rica will pay back a little more than half of what he admits he stole. Some critics have said Rica should have received some prison time and paid back all the money he stole, but Bergen County prosecutors have defended the deal given to Rica.
Assistant County Prosecutor Daniel Keitel told the newspaper that the deal took months to negotiate and will "get as much of the money back to the public as quickly as possible." Had the state tried Rica for second-degree theft, Keitel said he may have faced five years behind bars, but would not have been legally bound to return any of the stolen money.
According to the Record, Rica would tamper with the security camera in the storage room holding the coins so that he was never caught on camera lifting the quarters. And by spreading the money he was stealing across multiple bank accounts, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Daniel Keitel says, he was able to obscure exactly how much he stole.
"It was very difficult to determine the amount of the theft," Keitel admitted, explaining investigators using both bank records and Rica's own admissions "established an exact amount that we think is accurate."
"I am not enthusiastic about an arrangement of this nature," Judge Roma said, "but I understand the details that go into it. A lot of time has gone into this, and five years is a long time to be on probation."