Thomas Muza, former Triangle Club accountant and McCarter Theatre general manager, pleaded guilty on Friday to embezzling more than $240,000 from the club between January 2008 and February 2013.
The specific charge was second-degree theft by unlawful taking.
Muza declined to comment.
Triangle’s Board of Trustees was originally unhappy with Muza because he was not doing responsible financial reporting, Marc Segan ’77, chairman of the board, said.
“We found it not easy to deal with him because we wanted to get clear financial information, and I guess that was because he had things to hide,” he said.
Muza was Triangle’s accountant between 1993 and 2013, and received an annual salary from Triangle of $4,000. In September 2012, Muza was named Esquire magazine’s employee of the month, which is part of a feature the magazine runs regularly about impressive employees across the country.
Triangle would have been better off had this never happened, but is still fine, Segan said.
“Triangle was hurt financially, but not mortally wounded by any stretch,” he said.
The state will recommend that Muza pay restitution of $240,000, including $200,000 at sentencing, according to the state’s plea agreement with Muza. The state will also recommend that Muza be sentenced to three years in prison.
Muza stole much of the money by writing Triangle Club checks directly to himself and cashing them, depositing them into his personal bank account and making direct payments on his personal credit cards, according to information contained in the plea agreement. He used the money primarily to pay his living expenses, including credit card debt, mortgage payments and utility bills.
“The reaction was shocking disappointment,” Allen Jackson ’78, vice chairman of Triangle’s Board of Trustees, said of the Board’s reaction to the discovery of the thefts.
While some trustees spent considerable time working on the case, a majority of the work was done by their attorneys and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Jackson said.
“I do not believe that this case affected the activities of the club in terms of the undergraduates who write, produce and perform our shows,” he added.
The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General did not respond to a request for comment.
Muza’s guilty plea seems logical and appropriate, Segan said.
“Tom Muza did a terrible thing and seems to be paying the price,” he said. “So it seems like an acceptable result.”
The club has implemented additional internal accounting controls to prevent future theft, Jackson said.
“We are very grateful for what the Attorney General and the attorneys have done to arrive at this [conclusion],” Jackson said. “Most of all, we’re glad to be able to move on, to focus our full attention on creating great shows and for our club members to put on great shows for our audiences.”
Muza was dismissed from both his jobs at McCarter and Triangle on Nov. 19, 2013, following reports from a law firm serving as counsel for Triangle that initially uncovered the thefts.
Muza was initially charged by the Division of Criminal Justice on Nov. 27, 2013 and was indicted on June 2, 2014. Sentencing for the case is scheduled for Sept. 4, 2015.
Triangle president Victoria Rinker ’16 deferred comment to Jackson.
During the time period of the crime, Triangle had an approximate total revenue of $1,319,000. The club also reported assets worth $1,591,129 in the 2013 fiscal year.