Founded in 1891, Princeton University's touring musical comedy troupe the Princeton Triangle Club has counted among its members luminaries like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jimmy Stewart and Brooke Shields. But one man involved with the prestigious organization allegedly reached a low point and is now accused of treating the club's purse as a piggy bank to pay off his personal debts.
Former Triangle Club accountant Thomas John Muza, 55, was arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $100,000 from the organization since at least 2010, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General said Monday.
Prosecutors said Muza, who was a signatory on the club's bank account, wrote Triangle Club checks to himself and deposited them into his own account. In at least one instance, Muza allegedly wrote a Triangle Club check for $30,000 directly to his credit card company to pay off his debts.
"The members and trustees of the Triangle Club trusted Muza as a prominent, longstanding member of Princeton's theater community, but he corruptly betrayed their trust," Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said in a statement. "When his personal finances got tight, Muza allegedly treated the club's bank account like it was his own, stealing huge sums."
The law firm that serves as counsel for the Triangle Club uncovered the alleged thefts and reported the information to authorities. Muza, who had served as the troupe's accountant since 1993, was dismissed Nov. 19. as a result of the investigation. Muza was also let go from his longtime post as general manager of nonprofit performing arts company the McCarter Theatre located on Princeton's campus.
Muza, of Hightstown, N.J., is charged by complaint with second-degree theft by unlawful taking. He surrendered Wednesday to the Division of Criminal Justice for processing and was released on his own recognizance.
Officials said the offense will be presented to a grand jury for potential indictment. If convicted, Muza faces 5 to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
"We will do everything in our power to recover the funds that were stolen from the Princeton Triangle Club and ensure that Muza faces justice," Division of Criminal Justice director Elie Honig said in a release.
Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and that they believe Muza was stealing funds from the club "well before" 2010.