Former Brick Township schools superintendent Walter Uszenski has been indicted by an Ocean County grand jury on charges of official misconduct and theft by deception, along with his daughter and two other former school district officials.
Uszenski, 63, of Brick; former Brick Schools Interim Director of Public Services Andrew Morgan, 68, of Edison; former Brick Schools Academic Officer Lorraine Morgan, 58, of Edison; and Jacqueline Halsey, 37, of Brick, the daughter of Walter Uszenski were all indicted Tuesday on charges of official misconduct and theft by deception for their roles in “a series of schemes which was devised and orchestrated to provide a child of Jacqueline Halsey with educational and other services at public expense to which the child was not legally entitled,” the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
Andrew Morgan was also indicted on charges of false swearing and theft by deception for knowingly concealing his prior criminal conviction for criminal sale of a controlled dangerous substance in New York City in 1990. It is alleged that Andrew Morgan falsely certified in his employment application for the Interim Director of Special Services position that he had never been arrested, charged or convicted of a criminal offense. Andrew Morgan resigned from his position on December 31, 2013. He received in excess of $60,000 in compensation from the Brick Board of Education between March 1 and December 31, 2013.
Uszenski, Halsey and Andrew Morgan were charged in May. Lorraine Morgan had not been been previously charged. Uszenski has been suspended with pay as superintendent as the indictment pended. Presumably, the Board of Education will meet to suspend Uszenski without pay now that an indictment has been handed up, though word broke about the indictment late Tuesday and no meeting has been scheduled.
The indictment alleges that Uszenski and Andrew Morgan, who became the Interim Director of Special Services for the Brick public school district upon Uszenski’s recommendation in July 2013, engineered a plan to provide Halsey’s preschool aged child with full time day care and transportation at the school district’s expense by falsely claiming that the program and services were educationally appropriate and necessary.
“The investigation revealed that Ms. Halsey initiated and approved the improper request and that both Morgan and Uszenski, the superintendent, executed the necessary approvals required for the Brick Board of Education to fund the program and related services,” the statement said.
The amount of fraudulent benefits conferred is believed to exceed $50,000.
The investigation, prosecutors said, revealed that Andrew Morgan initially was hired by the board at the request and recommendation of Uszenski, to conduct an audit of the Brick schools special services section in March 2013. Uszenski and Morgan knew each other and had worked together before 2013.
The $17,499 “audit,” which is approximately seven pages in length, was critical of the job performance of the then-director of special services. Morgan was paid more than $83 per hour for 209 hours to prepare and write the audit, and also advocated saving the district money by providing services to special needs students in-district rather than sending those students out of district and paying private tuition. As a result of the audit, Uszenski recommended Morgan to the Board of Education to become the Interim Director of Special Services. The school board then hired Morgan for that position.
It is alleged that the “audit” was a pretense to position Morgan as the director of the special services section. After he began serving on July 1, 2013, one of his first official acts was to engineer a fraudulent special education plan for Ms. Halsey child, it is alleged, who is also Uszenski’s grandchild, to receive “unnecessary services and transportation at taxpayer’s expense,” according to the statement.
Lorraine Morgan, Andrew Morgan’s wife, was also charged by the grand jury with official misconduct, a third degree offense, for her role in approving “unnecessary counseling services for the former superintendent’s grandson,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Uszenski, Morgan and Halsey have been charged with the second degree crime of official misconduct and third degree theft by ceception. Each of them has also been charged with third degree official misconduct. Each second degree official misconduct charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years incarceration with a minimum mandatory period of five years without parole. Third degree official misconduct carries a maximum penalty of five years in New Jersey state prison with a minimum mandatory period of two years which must be served before parole eligibility. Each third degree theft by deception charge carries a maximum period of five years incarceration in New Jersey state prison.