McCarter Theatre’s General Manager, Thomas John Muza, has been charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from the Princeton Triangle Club.
Called for comment Monday, Tom Miller, on his first day on the job as Dan Bauer’s replacement as McCarter Theatre’s Director of Public Relations, said that the investigation was ongoing and that there was little he could say about it. He confirmed, however, that Mr. Muza is on “unpaid leave” from his McCarter Theatre position. Mr. Muza’s name remains posted as general manager on the McCarter Theatre website.
According to McCarter spokesperson Tim Shields, Mr. Muza has worked for McCarter since 1990 and was suspended without pay on November 19, the same day he was dismissed as the Triangle Club’s accountant.
McCarter Theatre is a not-for-profit professional theater company based on the campus of Princeton University. The Triangle Club is the University’s historic touring musical-comedy troupe. Founded in 1891, it has had a number of famous members through the years, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jimmy Stewart, Josh Ferrer, and Brooke Shields.
In addition to his McCarter job, Mr. Muza has been the Triangle Club’s accountant since 1993. He was dismissed by the independent nonprofit theater troupe as a result of the theft investigation.
New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced Monday that Mr. Muza, 55, of Hightstown was charged with second-degree theft. He surrendered to detectives of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice on November 27 to be processed on the charge and was released on his own recognizance.
According to the statement from Mr. Hoffman’s office, the law firm serving as counsel for the Triangle Club initially uncovered the thefts and referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Justice for further investigation and criminal prosecution. The Princeton University Police Department also provided assistance.
As accountant for the Triangle Club, Mr. Muza was a signatory on the club’s bank account. The investigation to date has revealed that he allegedly stole more than $100,000 since the start of 2010 by writing Triangle Club checks directly to himself and depositing the checks into his personal bank account. There also was at least one instance in which Mr. Muza allegedly wrote a Triangle Club check for $30,000 directly to his credit card company to pay off his personal credit card debt. The investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice is continuing. It is alleged that the thefts began well before 2010.
“The members and trustees of the Triangle Club trusted Muza as a prominent, longstanding member of Princeton’s theater community, but he corruptly betrayed their trust,” said Mr. Hoffman. “When his personal finances got tight, Muza allegedly treated the club’s bank account like it was his own, stealing huge sums. We are continuing to investigate the extent of his alleged thefts.”
“We will do everything in our power to recover the funds that were stolen from the Princeton Triangle Club and ensure that Muza faces justice,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge anyone with information regarding this case to contact us confidentially.”
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. Because the charge is an indictable offense, it will be presented to a grand jury.
Deputy Attorney General Mark Kurzawa and Detective Benjamin Kukis are assigned to the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau. Detective James Lanzi handled the investigation for the Princeton University Police Department.
In the press release announcing the charges, Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Honig noted that 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.
The Triangle Club has announced that the investigation will not affect the Club’s undergraduate members, its operations, or its upcoming national tour which will make stops in Atlanta, Miami, Naples, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.