The former accountant for the Triangle Club of Princeton University, the historic touring musical-comedy troupe at the university, was indicted today by a state grand jury for allegedly embezzling more than $180,000 from the club, Acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced today.
Thomas John Muza, 55, of Hightstown, was indicted on a charge of second-degree theft by unlawful taking. 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.
Muza also served for many years as general manager of McCarter Theatre, a not-for-profit professional theater company based on the campus of Princeton University. He was suspended from that position on Nov. 19 as a result of the theft investigation.
Between January 2008 and February 2013, Muza allegedly used his position as accountant for the Triangle Club to steal more than $180,000. Muza, who was paid an annual salary of $4,000, was a signatory on the club’s bank account. The investigation revealed that he allegedly stole nearly $90,000 by writing Triangle Club checks directly to himself and cashing them or depositing them into his personal bank account. He allegedly used the money primarily to pay his living expenses, including credit card debt, mortgage payments and utility bills. In addition, Muza allegedly wrote Triangle Club checks totaling more than $95,000 to make direct payments on three personal credit cards and to an unauthorized third party.
Muza was charged by the Division of Criminal Justice on Nov. 27. The matter had been referred to the Division 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.
“Rather than acting as an honest steward and ensuring that funds were strictly used to carry on the Triangle Club’s grand entertainment tradition, Muza allegedly abused the trust placed in him and shamelessly treated the club’s bank account like his own,” Hoffman said.
“White collar crime can have a devastating impact on its victims, whether they are individuals or organizations,” said Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We intend to ensure that Muza pays for his alleged crime and pays back the money stolen from this nonprofit organization.”
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.
The second-degree theft charge carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000. The charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Mercer County, where Muza will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.
Deputy Attorney General Mark Kurzawa and Detective Benjamin Kukis conducted the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau and presented the case to the state grand jury. Detective James Lanzi handled the investigation for the Princeton University Police Department.
The Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free tip line 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. Additionally, the public can log on to the Division of Criminal Justice webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing. All information received through the tip line or webpage will remain confidential, officials said.