Former Brookdale Community College (BCC) President Peter F. Burnham received a five-year prison sentence after bilking the college, Monmouth University and the federal government of over $44,000 worth of items and services, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Grammiccioni announced.
Burnham, 68, of Colts Neck, was ordered to pay $44,497 in restitution by Superior Court Judge Thomas F. Scully, who handed down the sentence at the Monmouth County Courthouse in Freehold on Friday.
Burnham pleaded guilty on June 24 to two counts of official misconduct and one count of theft by deception. As part of his plea agreement, Burnham will be ineligible for parole for two years.
Burnham resigned from BCC in March 2011 after county officials and Freeholder John Curley raised questions about his spending practices.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) subsequently conducted an investigation into Burnham. Prosecutors found that from June 2003 until February 2011, Burnham used two credit cards issued by BCC to pay for expenses that were not related to college business, the MCPO said in a press release. These fraudulent expenses included lodging, airfare and meals in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Verginia, Arizona and Delaware. The expenses exceeded $24,000.
Burnham also bilked Monmouth University and the federal government out of $20,000 in student aid by exploiting a term in his contract that allowed for tuition reimbursement for family members who attended a state college or university, prosecutors said.
Burnham, whose son attended Monmouth University, had already been reimbursed for his son’s 2010/2011 school year tuition as per the terms of Burnham’s employment contract. However, after submitting his resignation to BCC in March 2011, Burnham and his son filed an application for federal student aid for the same 2010/2011 school year without disclosing the $20,000 tuition reimbursement benefit. The federal government paid the 2010/2011 tuition to Monmouth University directly after Burnham and his son qualified for the student aid. After noting the overpayment for tuition, Monmouth University issued a $20,398 reimbursement check to Burnham’s son, which was deposited into Burnham’s personal bank account, according to a press release issued by the MCPO.
The case was assigned to Grammiccioni and Assistant Prosecutor John Loughrey. Burnham was represented by Steven Secare.