A New Jersey city official admitted in court this week to stealing 1.8 million quarters, amounting to roughly $460,000, collected from parking meters.
Thomas Rica, 43, formerly employed as Ridgewood's public works inspector, had access to a secure room holding the city's parking meter coins, and pilfered a couple hundred dollars every few days, according to NorthJersey.com
After 25 months of doing do, he had stolen at least $460,000 worth of quarters. All in, the money would have weighed a collective 11.25 tons according to the U.S. Mint – the equivalent of three elephants, a large bus, or nine Honda Civics.
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Rica was finally busted while boosting about $500. A fellow employee noticed there were some coins missing, and alerted the police. After a year-long investigation, county officials totaled the final sum in the hundreds of thousands.
Apparently, Rica took varying amounts each time he hit the cash room – sometimes stealing literally by the fistful – and cleverly deposited the quarters in small amounts at bank branches far and wide.
Rica noted in court that he did not use the money for anything illicit, but rather used it to supplement his $86,000-a-year salary while supporting his wife and two children.
"It was just temptation," Rica's attorney, Bob Galantucci, told the New York Post
. "He was in a room with a lot of money. He was raising a family. As a result, he thought he would supplement his income with that."
He said further that his client is sorry for taking the money, and is now focused on "putting his life back together."
After pleading guilty, Rica will not see jail time, but will have to pay back the money over the span of a five-year probation – starting with a $69,000 lump sum.
Rica now works for his brother's construction firm, and has been banned from holding another municipal position in New Jersey.
Additional security measures have been added to the cash room as well.
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