NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Patricia Ruggeri, an administrator with the New Brunswick school district since 2005 until her recent resignation, was arrested at her new job today and charged with stealing over $12,000 in student fees.
In 2011, Ruggeri made $90,488 as a vice principal at the city's Adult Learning Center at 268 Baldwin Street. Since 1988, the free school has helped adult students earn their Graduation Equivalency Diploma (GED).
Ruggeri allegedly pocketed "at least $12,000" in fees that students had paid to take the GED exam between April 2011 and July 2012, according to a statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office.
In June, Ruggeri took a leave of a leave of absence and eventually resigned to take a job with Rutgers-Camden. The investigation began after her resignation in September according to the statement.
"During her leave, school officials detected discrepancies in student fees and contacted authorities… The investigation is continuing to determine if additional funds are missing" said the prosecutor's statement.
Her bail was set at $15,000, according to a report in the Star-Ledger.
New Brunswick's Superintendent of Schools Richard Kaplan did return a phone message left with his office staff this afternoon.
Kaplan instead spoke with New Brunswick Patch's Jennifer Bradshaw, who reported: "Kaplan said that he found the discrepancies while going over budget information for the school and reported it to New Brunswick Police Director Anthony Caputo, and from there, it went to the Prosecutor's Office."
Board of Education President Ed Spencer declined to comment shortly after 5pm, saying that our inquiry was the first he had heard of the arrest.
"That happened today?" he asked, adding that he would have to discuss the matter with Kaplan before commenting.
Ruggeri's arrest comes on the heels of a close vote to decide whether the school board will be elected for the first time in city history. Historically, New Brunswick's mayor has appointed the board, but residents have submitted petitions five times to put the question to voters since Mayor James Cahill was first elected in 1990.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.