The former accountant for the Triangle Club at Princeton University was sentenced to three years in prison Friday for embezzling $240,000 from the musical comedy troupe.
Thomas John Muza, 57, of Hightstown, pleaded guilty on March 27 to a charge of second-degree theft by unlawful taking. Muza must pay restitution of $240,000. He paid $200,000 at the sentencing hearing on Friday, according to the state Attorney General’s office.
Muza was the accountant for the independent nonprofit theater troupe from 1993 until May 2013, when he was dismissed after discrepancies and suspicious expenditures were discovered in the troupe’s financial records. He also served for many years as general manager of McCarter Theatre. He was removed from that position as a result of the theft investigation.
In his guilty plea, Muza admitted that between January 2008 and February 2013, he used his position as accountant for the Triangle Club to steal roughly $240,000. Muza, who was paid an annual salary of $4,000, was a signatory on the club’s bank account. The investigation revealed that he wrote Triangle Club checks directly to himself and cashed them or depositing them into his personal bank account. He used the money primarily to pay his living expenses, including credit card debt, mortgage payments and utility bills. He also wrote Triangle Club checks to make direct payments on his personal credit cards. The case was referred to the Division of Criminal Justice by the law firm that serves as counsel for the Triangle Club, which conducted an initial investigation of the thefts. The Princeton University Police Department also provided assistance.
“Muza corruptly repaid the trust of the members of this illustrious musical-comedy troupe by stealing nearly a quarter of a million dollars from them,” said Acting Attorney General John Hoffman. “What’s more, this was not a one-time lapse; he had his hand in the till over and over again in the course of five years.”
“With this prison sentence we send a strong deterrent message that white collar crime does not pay,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Muza must pay back every dollar he stole from the Triangle Club, and he will always bear the stigma of being a convicted felon.”
The Princeton Triangle Club, which was founded in 1891, has had a number of famous members through the years, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jimmy Stewart, José Ferrer and Brooke Shields.