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Former N.J. School Official Admits To $566,000 Con

Michelle Pumilia, 40, Used Fake Bus Company To Bill School Districts
FILE - NYC School Bus (credit: CBS 2)

FILE – NYC School Bus (credit: CBS 2)

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — The former transportation manager for two New Jersey school districts has admitted bilking the districts out of nearly $566,000.

State authorities say 40-year-old Michelle Pumilia of Union Beach pleaded guilty Friday to a complaint charging her with pattern of official misconduct.  She now faces an eight-year state prison term when she’s sentenced Feb. 24, and will have to serve at least five years before she becomes eligible for parole.

Pumilia also will be permanently barred from public employment and must forfeit all public pension and retirement benefits. The state’s Division of Criminal Justice has also obtained a court order to seize four bank accounts of Pumilia and six motor vehicles, and she will relinquish any interest in those accounts and vehicles.

Pumilia worked as transportation manager for Hazlet schools from July 2005 through August 2008, then was transportation supervisor for the Piscataway School District from September 2008 until June 2012. Authorities have said Pumilia created a fictitious bus company and billed the districts for services. A Piscataway district employee alerted authorities after finding the suspicious invoices.

The thefts totaled approximately $336,570 in Piscataway, and about $229,202 in the Hazlet District, authorities said. As part of her sentence, Pumilia must pay $572,812 in restitution.

Pumilia’s mother, Virginia Lisay, was initially charged in the investigation. But authorities say those charges have been dismissed.

Pumilia stole an additional $7,040 from the Hazlet district by fraudulently authorizing “aid-in-lieu” checks in Lisay’s name. Such checks are provided to students attending private schools who are entitled to district transportation but cannot be bused by the district.

Those checks and most of the checks for the fictitious bus companies were deposited into a joint account Pumilia held with her mother.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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