By John Burton
TRENTON – A Union Beach woman who had handled transportation management for the Hazlet and Piscataway public school districts was sentenced Thursday to prison for stealing more than $500,000 from the two districts.
Michelle Pumilia, 40, was sentenced to serve the five years without the possibility of parole by Superior Court Judge Bradley J. Ferencz, sitting in Middlesex County, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
Pumilia pleaded guilty to second-degree pattern of official misconduct when she last appeared before Ferencz on Dec. 13. She admitted to misappropriating $336,570 from the Piscataway district and $229,202 from Hazlet’s by authorizing payments to fictitious bus companies for transportation services never provided, the attorney general’s office said.
Pumilia also acknowledged stealing another $7,040 by fraudulently authorizing “aid-in-lieu” checks to her mother, Virginia Lisay. Aid-in-lieu is issued to families of students attending private schools, who are entitled to be bused by the district, but the district is unable to provide the service.
Lisay initially was charged in the investigations but those charges have since been dropped, the attorney general’s office said.
Pumilia must make full restitution of $572,812, is permanently prohibited from public employment and will forfeit any retirement benefits.
Scott M. Callahan, 40, Pumilia’s longtime boyfriend, who lived with Pumilia, pleaded guilty Dec. 13 in Monmouth County Superior Court to third-degree theft by deception for intentionally under reporting his income while he was receiving Social Security disability and federal Section 8 housing subsidies. Callahan received disability overpayments of $38,794 over 10 years and $15,300 in housing allowances. Callahan’s fraud came to light as investigators were probing Pumilia activities, authorities said.
Prosecutors will recommend Callahan be sentenced to probation conditioned on his paying full restitution, the attorney general’s office said.