FREEHOLD - The retired school superintendent of Wall Township Schools pleaded not guilty Monday to several charges stemming from two grand jury indictments.
The allegations against James Habel, 56, now a resident of Dunedin, Fla., came in two separate indictments handed down by a Monmouth County grand jury.
Habel, 56, was indicted last week on charges that he fraudulently obtained more than $360,000 in vacation payments, was involved in a $1 million mortgage fraud scheme and failed to report the alleged sexual abuse of a 4-year-old special needs student by a staff member.
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The alleged mortgage fraud scheme involved two homes: his former Point Pleasant home that was raided last September and his home in Florida.
Sandra Brower, who is a former administrator in Wall and is currently suspended from her job as schools superintendent in Lacey, was also in court today. Brower was arraigned on charges that she and Habel did not report, then covered up their knowledge of a 2009 abuse allegation and later fired or forced out employees who were aware of the alleged cover-up.
Habel's lawyer, Robert Honecker, said his client was innocent. "My client will vigorously defend against both indictments and press for a speedy trial because he is innocent of all changes," said Honecker.
Brower pleaded not guilty and was released on her own recognizance. Habel made bail and was released.