NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Two former employees of the New Brunswick Parking Authority will spend time behind bars after they were found guilty of official misconduct, authorities announced late Saturday evening.

The sentencing of Emil Hanna, 62, and Emad Naguib, 56, both of Old Bridge, marks the closure of another chapter in a years-long legal battle.

On Friday afternoon, both were handed a five-year sentence to be served at the New Jersey State Prison, of which they’ll have to spend at least two years before parole eligibility, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.

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After their release, Hanna and Naguib will both be banned for life from public employment, Carey said.

In 2010, Hanna and Naguib were charged with failing to report or prevent other employees from stealing thousands of dollars in parking fees, according to the release.

The two former employees were part of nearly a dozen staff implicated in the alleged scheme, and several of them took plea deals and testified against Hanna and Naguib.

The scheme carried on between July 2007 and June 2010, Carey said. The staff allegedly involved stole anywhere from $5,000 to $75,000 from automated payment machines and customers at the Lower Church Street Parking Deck and now-demolished Ferren Street Parking Deck. 

They were found guilty by a Middlesex County jury in January 2013, following a two-week long trial. Their conviction was overturned six months later, but the county prosecutor appealed the decision.

Lawyers for Hanna, a security sergeant and Naguib, a security officer, argued that reporting the thefts of their coworkers was not part of their job description.

But the county prosecutor, in their appeal, argued the contrary, and the conviction was reinstated by a two-judge panel from the NJ Appellate Division in January 2016.

“If security guards regularly handled money, they had a duty not to steal that money and not to allow coworkers to steal it,” the panel wrote, citing the parking authority’s Security Procedures Manual.

Both employees “regularly handled money,” the panel added, and had a duty to report problems or threats to the revenue and property of the parking authority.

Hanna was also acquitted of another 12 charges, while Naguib was found not guilty on 10 counts, for charges including official misconduct, theft and misapplication of entrusted property.

Editor Daniel J. Munoz,