|PRINCETON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that the former accountant for the Princeton Triangle Club, the historic touring musical-comedy troupe at Princeton University, has been charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from the club.
Thomas John Muza, 55, of Hightstown, N.J., was charged by complaint with second-degree theft by unlawful taking. He surrendered to detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice on Nov. 27 to be processed on the charge and was released on his own recognizance. Muza was accountant for the independent nonprofit theater troupe from 1993 until this month, when he was dismissed as a result of the theft investigation. He also has 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, the same day he was terminated as Triangle Club accountant.
The law firm that serves 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 has provided assistance in the ongoing investigation.
Muza, who was paid an annual salary of $4,000 as accountant for the Triangle Club, was a signatory on the club’s bank account. The investigation to date has revealed that Muza 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 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 by Muza 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 Acting Attorney General 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 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. Because the charge is an indictable offense, it will be presented to a grand jury for potential indictment.
Deputy Attorney General Mark Kurzawa and Detective Benjamin Kukis are assigned to the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Detective James Lanzi handled the investigation for the Princeton University Police Department.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman and Director 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.