HACKENSACK, N.J. -- A Hackensack school teacher has been charged with theft by deception after investigators say she solicited a few hundred thousand dollars from innocent investors in a Ponzi-type scheme.

On Tuesday, October 13, Suzette R. Hart, a 54-year-old Oradell woman who teaches ESL at Hackensack High School, was arrested and charged with one count of Theft By Deception, a second-degree crime, on the heels of a 17-month investigation conducted by detectives of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit.

Detectives were tipped off in May 2019 from complainants who informed them that a Bergen County resident had been soliciting investors for fraudulent purposes unbeknownst to the investors. The investigation found that Hart had solicited numerous investors over the course of five years for various so-called “high-yield, well-known” investment opportunities -- knowing that the investments were fraudulent -- swindling more than $300,000 in investor funds, which investigators say she used for her own personal expenses.

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According to Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella, Hart “disbursed money from one investor to other investors, which reinforced the deception that the investor’s money had been properly invested and was producing profit.”

Hart was released on a summons pending her first appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court in Hackensack at an undisclosed date.