ROXBURY, NJ – The lead mechanic for the Roxbury school district’s transportation department stole about 1,900 gallons of fuel from the district, used some for himself and sold some to others, according to authorities.
The mechanic, Matthew Hofgesang, 47, admitted taking the fuel, valued at about $8,150 between June 2014 and March 7, said the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office. It said Hofgesang appeared today (April 14) before Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz, who sentenced him to one year of probation, ordered he pay back the school district and directed that he forfeit his “public employment in the State of New Jersey.”
Hofgesang had been charged with one count of theft, a disorderly person’s offense. His case came as part of an investigation into improprieties at the transportation department. On Monday, the director of that department, Thomas Cunningham, submitted his resignation to the Roxbury Board of Education.
In a probable cause statement released today, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Daniel Haber said Hofgesang had worked for the school district since September 2004. Haber explained that the school board “authorizes fuel use from a municipal fueling facility for official purposes. By design, normal operation required a personal key fob entry to allow operation of the fueling system.”
Hofgesang had access to the fuel pumps, said Haber in the statement. However, he also had access to “a master key which provided the ability to override the fuel dispensing system so that gasoline or diesel fuel could be pumped without use of a personalized key fob.”
By using the master key, Hofgesang could take fuel without the theft being traced. Haber said law enforcement became involved after the school district launched an “administrative investigation” that showed what was going on. “During the course of the investigation, surveillance, both visual and video, captured the defendant obtaining fuel for personal use,” said Haber’s statement.
He said he and Roxbury Police Detective William Manisa interviewed Hofgesang on March 11. During the interview, Hofgesang – who had waived his Constitutional right to silence – admitted the fuel thefts, said Haber.
The prosecutor’s office did not say whether the investigation is continuing or whether Hofgesang agreed to cooperate in any such expanded probe.