A public works inspector in New Jersey admitted Wednesday to stealing more than $460,000 in quarters over a span of 25 months.
Thomas Rica, 43, was arrested last year and fired for taking $500 in coins. A Bergen County investigation found that his coin collection was, in fact, much larger. He pleaded guilty Wednesday to four counts of third-degree theft from the village of Ridgewood, The Record newspaper reports.
Officials say Rica gained access to a room in the Village Hall with his master key, where he regularly took handfuls of coins, sometimes several times a week. Four separate times, he took more than $500, his lawyer Robert Galantucci, said at Wednesday’s hearing.
Rica deposited his illicit earnings at coin machines in multiple different bank branches, eluding authorities even though the coins he took over two years amounted to more than half of Ridgewood's total annual collection from parking meters.
The 1.8 million quarters—roughly 11.25 tons—helped complement Rica’s $86,000 salary, The Record reports. Rica’s plea deal means that he won’t go to prison but will instead have to pay back the stolen money, beginning with an initial lump sump of $69,000 followed by at least $2,000 a month.
It needn’t be in coins.