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Leonia Schools Business Administrator Charged With Embezzling $19,000

Julia DePinto-Perez
Julia DePinto-Perez Photo Credit: COURTESY: Leonia School District

LEONIA, N.J. -- Leonia police on Friday charged borough Board of Education Business Administrator Julia DePinto-Perez with embezzling more than $19,000 from the district.

DePinto-Perez, 53, collected the money by opting out of medical benefits beyond the permissable amount of no more than $5,000 per year, Leonia Police Chief Thomas P. Rowe said Friday afternoon.

An investigation began after a board clerk on Sept. 30 noticed a $10,000 scheduled payment to DePinto-Perez and alerted Schools Supt. Joanne Megargee "due to the size of the payment," Rowe said.

Megargee "immediately canceled the transaction and conducted a review," he said.

"Realizing that this payment was both excessive and not authorized, [she] looked into past payouts" and discovered that DePinto-Perez "had paid herself $5,000 and $4,093.83 for opting out of medical benefits" that she was actually receiving, the chief said.

Megargee notified Leonia police.

Detective Sgt. Christopher Garris investigated with oversight from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, leading to two theft charges and one attempted theft complaint.

DePinto-Perez, of North Bergen, turned herself in to Leonia police on Friday and was processed and released pending a Jan. 26 hearing.

The case was being forwarded to the prosecutor's office for grand jury consideration, Rowe said.

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