By John Burton
FREEHOLD – The former business administrator for Shore Regional High School pleaded guilty this week to a list of offenses concerning his misappropriating school funds, totaling more than $30,000.
Dennis Kotch, a 41-year-old Wall resident, pleaded guilty in state Superior Court on Monday to charges of two counts of second degree official misconduct, two counts of third degree theft by unlawful taking, one count of third degree misapplication of entrusted property and one count of insurance fraud, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
Authorities indicated, as a condition of his plea agreement, they would recommend that Kotch be sentenced to probation without jail time, but would permanently prohibit him from holding public office, require him to perform community service and make restitution for the school’s funds, totaling $30,020.99.
Kotch will again appear in court for sentencing on Aug. 4.
The prosecutor’s investigators conducted a nearly one-year probe into Kotch’s actions after school officials raised concerns about the administrator. Kotch had resigned from his job on May 13, 2016, a week after the investigation was initiated. According to the prosecutor’s office, the investigators determined that Kotch, while working at the West Long Branch regional high school, on his own accord, without the board of education’s knowledge or approval, had hired a female intern, who worked from January 2015 to May 2016, to do work that should have been Kotch’s responsibility. The intern did much of this work from Florida, where she was attending college. The intern was paid $27,439.95 for that period.
Investigators also discovered that Kotch had taken 22 workdays out of district, often out of the state, without using his personal or vacation time, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Kotch has to pay back the intern’s $27,439.95 salary for the 16 months, as well as the $2,581.04 for his per diem rate for 3.5 days, for the difference between the 22 unauthorized days off and the 18.5 vacation days he had accrued up to the time of his resignation, the prosecutor’s office said.
Shore Regional High School is a receiving district with students from West Long Branch, Oceanport and Monmouth Beach.
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