Nearly four months after an Ocean County Superior Court judge threw out an indictment against suspended Brick schools superintendent Walter Uszenski, prosecutors have successfully obtained a new indictment from a new grand jury, officials confirmed.
Uszenski had been charged with official misconduct and theft after prosecutors said he provided his grandson with after-school services to which he was not entitled. Defense attorneys have argued that the child was enrolled in the after-school program before his grandfather ever worked in Brick, and was re-enrolled only after he was not doing well in regular classes. Judge Patricia Roe said the defense’s claims were not included in an initial grand jury presentation, which prompted her to dismiss the charges against Uszenski and his daughter.
Prosecutors could have appealed Roe’s decision, however such a process could have taken a substantial amount of time. Instead, they chose to re-present the case to a new grand jury.
“We believed that the best and most expedient way to handle the matter would have been to take [Roe’s] concerns into consideration, re-present with her concerns – and the jury came back with a true bill, a new indictment,” Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato told Shorebeat.
Uszenski, under state law, will be offered a plea deal after arraignment.
“It’s going to now follow the procedure,” Coronato said of the case.
The latest indictment restores the charges against Uszenski, his daughter, Jacqueline Halsey as well as Andrew J. Morgan, the former Interim Director of Special Services for Brick public schools and his wife Lorraine Morgan, who served as Academic Officer for the district.
“It is the intention of my office to pursue this case,” Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato said in a statement. “This case represents a serious breach of the public trust. We have carefully reviewed the Court’s decision, which resulted in the dismissal of a prior indictment. We are mindful of our legal responsibilities and obligations. The matter has been presented to another grand jury, which after evaluation of the evidence presented, returned this new indictment.”
Through Roe’s previous decision, it was revealed that Brick Mayor John Ducey reported allegations against Uszenski to the prosecutor’s office after a bus driver who had been terminated for leaving a child on a bus came to his office. Both Ducey, the bus driver as well as the school district and township are named in a $60 million lawsuit Uszenski has indicated he will file.
It also came to light recently that all of the Board of Education members who served while Uszenski was superintendent were called to provide testimony before the grand jury.
The indictment charges Uszenski, Andrew Morgan and Jacqueline Halsey with official misconduct, a second degree crime, for “engaging in a course of conduct that resulted in the creation and implementation of a fraudulent purported Individualized Education Program for Mrs. Halsey’s then pre-school aged child,” the provision of “illegal and improper in-home counseling services for the child at public expense” and transportation expenses. The defendants are also charged with theft by deception.
Lorraine Morgan is charged with official misconduct, a third degree crime, in connection with the approval of payment to a school district employee for providing in-home counseling services to the superintendent’s grandson, in her official capacity as the district’s Academic Officer.
The indictment also charges Uszenski with official misconduct, a crime of the second degree, for failing, as superintendent, to properly investigate Andrew J. Morgan’s prior employment history before recommending Andrew Morgan to the Brick Board of Education for employment as the Interim Manager of Special Education. It was revealed that Morgan had previously been convicted of a drug offense, although he was legally allowed to hold a teaching license in New Jersey after completing an amnesty program the state formerly offered. He was granted a waiver and cleared background checks, officials have said.
The indictment charges Andrew Morgan with two separate counts of false swearing: one, for denying he had been previously convicted of an offense involving the possession or sale of a controlled dangerous substance and two, for certifying on his “Brick Township Public Schools Online Application” that he had never been arrested, charged or convicted of a criminal offense; and that he had never failed to be rehired, or never had been asked to resign a position, or had never resigned to avoid termination, or never had been terminated from previous employment.
False swearing is a fourth degree crime.
Uszenski and Andrew Morgan are also charged with theft by deception, a crime of the third degree, between the dates of June 18, 2013 and December 31, 2013, for “creating the false impression that Andrew Morgan had truthfully set forth his employment and criminal histories on his employment application” and was qualified to be appointed to the position of Interim Manager and/or Director of Special Services.
Uszenski and Andrew Morgan were also charged with “engaging in a pattern” of official misconduct.