Former Brookdale President Pleads Guilty to Theft of College Funds

July 24, 2012
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FREEHOLD — Former Brookdale Community College President Peter Burnham pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to two counts of official misconduct and one count of theft by deception for stealing what Monmouth County prosecutors said was $44,000 in college funds.

Burnham, 68, was somber and responded in one-word answers as he admitted his guilt before Superior Court Judge Thomas Scully in a Monmouth County Courthouse courtroom.

The former college president stole the money through filing false expense reports, getting financial aid for his son that he was not entitled to and using a college credit card for his personal expenses, prosecutors said.

Burnham purchased such items as shoes, electronic equipment, appliances, food, liquor and lodging that were not associated with his work as the college’s president.

As part of his contract with Brookdale, he was entitled to receive tuition reimbursement for any children of his attending college. He was reimbursed by the college but also filed an application and received federal funds for $20,000 in tuition payments made to Monmouth University, prosecutors said.

Burnham, who was college president for 20 years before his resignation last year, is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 29.

Prosecutors have said they will ask the judge to sentence him to five years in prison with a two-year parole ineligibility plus restitution to be determined at a later date.

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