Jersey Official Steals $460K ... in Quarters

But Thomas Rica now has to pay it all back or go to jail

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 19, 2014 5:53 PM CDT

(Newser) – Last year, the public works inspector in Ridgewood, NJ, got caught stealing $500 in quarters from the room where the village dumped all its parking-meter coins. To say that's not the half of it doesn't even come close. The investigation that sprang from Thomas Rica's arrest revealed that he stole an impressive $460,000 in quarters over about two years, reports the Record of Bergen. Rica's grand scheme? He walked into the room, stuffed his pockets full of quarters—about 1.8 million of them over time— then walked back out again.

The 43-year-old pleaded guilty today to four counts of theft but will avoid jail time, reports the Star-Ledger. Rica, who made $86,000 a year at his job, has to pay back the full amount and will be on probation for 5 years. As part of his plea deal, he can never again work for a municipality in the state. "He's going to work very hard," says his attorney. "His family is going to support him." Ridgewood, meanwhile, says it's shored up security at that storage room.

Thomas Rica, a former Ridgewood borough employee, listens during a hearing at the Bergen County Courthouse Wednesday.
Thomas Rica, a former Ridgewood borough employee, listens during a hearing at the Bergen County Courthouse Wednesday.   (AP Photo/The Record of Bergen County, Mitsu Yasukawa, Pool)
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