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UPDATED: Former Wall Superintendent's Boro Home Raided By Prosecutor's Office

James F. Hable's Point Boro home raided this morning

Investigators from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office this morning raided the Point Pleasant Borough home of former Wall Township Superintendent of Schools James F. Habel.

Acting Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni was tight-lipped about the raid, saying only that the office "conducted an investigative action.''

Gramiccioni did not say what investigators were looking for or what was taken from Habel's home at 1614 Blue Heron Court in a quiet, residential neighborhood in the Borough. The raid began at 6:30 a.m.

Late Thursday morning, there appeared to be a few, unmarked law enforcement vehicles outside the home, which had a For Sale sign posted in front.

Attempts to reach Habel were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon.

The retirement payout for the former superintendent was a topic , where board President John Tavis said Habel's retirement payout would cost the district more than $408,800 for unused sick and vacation time in accordance with a contract that also gives him lifetime health insurance.

The former superintendent, Tavis said, also is entitled to 363 days of accrued vacation time, because Habel in 11 years never used his vacation days. At the time of the contract, there was no cap on the amount of payout or number of days that could accrue.

Gramiccioni did not say if Thursday's raid was related to Habel's contract.

But current Superintendent of Schools Daniel Simon said investigators from the Prosecutor's Office were recently combing through records at the Board of Education office.

Simon declined further comment.

, citing an undisclosed medical problem. The superintendent used some of that accrued sick time beginning in January. He did not return to the district.

Habel took the helm of the Wall School district beginning in 2003. Habel received a base salary of $220,048 in 2011, plus extensive benefits.

Habel, who maintains a home in Florida and whose wife is a full-time Florida resident, expressed "great interest" in a superintendent job in the Sunshine State in 2008, according to a letter he wrote to the Pinellas County School Board, located in Largo, Fla.

In it, Habel says he has been a part-time resident of Pinellas County since 1987 and has an interest in maintaining good schools there.

"I have a vested, long-term committment to Pinellas County and the future of our school system,'' he said in the letter, which is attached to this story.

Habel's pay was cited in a 2006 New Jersey Commission of Investigation report titled, "TAXPAYERS BEWARE -- What You Don’t Know Can Cost You: An Inquiry Into Questionable and Hidden Compensation for Public School Administrators."

In it, the commission found that school districts, legally, can pay employees in a tax-free annuity if the employee agrees to take a reduction in salary. The legal practice, however, appears "in many instances to have been awarded as adjuncts to base salaries rather than in place of corresponding salary reductions as required by the enabling statute."

The report cites a payment of $69,450 into an annuity made to Habel during the 2003-04 school year.

The report cites a practice it calls  "questionable'' in regard to total compensation for administrators. For instance, Habel's reported salary to the state Department of Education in 2004-05 was $159,000. His actual compensation -- including benefits and perks -- was $215,780, a difference of $56,780 or 35.7 percent, the report says.

"The official DOE listing provides no clue that many top administrators receive
payments for unused leave, annuities, pension contribution reimbursements and other forms of remuneration well beyond the scope of regular paychecks,'' the report says.

Joan September 16, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Yes, she does... I am thinking he placed here there so she can get him in to Lacey too. She is one of many of his girlfriends that he has. Could have been one of many snitches that turned Habel in. Everywhere I turn it appears that Habel made a lot of enemies. Could have been a Principal that did not get along with him, yet they covered for each other being they had so much on each other. It is a shame that the community of Wall was forced to keep both bad apples... They both have dragged this district down. We can only hope that the new Superintendent will have the courage to get rid of this Administrator along with others who no longer deserve to be in the educational business world in my opinion. Get them all out. Keep those who have ethics, morals who know the difference of right and wrong.
carol September 16, 2012 at 05:57 PM
And when Habel took "medical leave," the asst. superindent at the time, Brower, was paid an ADDITIONAL $350 PER DAY....in addition to her already inflated salary...and the BOE approved that, too!!! Way to go and throw money away...heard she left because there were so many lawsuits caused by her...is it true? She's in Lacey now. SHAME! SHAME!!! There is a lot of misspent money in Wall...always has been.
Joan September 16, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I am almost sure Habel took "medical leave," twice, two years in a row, If Habel had off every time the schools closed down for Holidays, why was he getting even more vacation time on top of those days. Doesn't the BOE realize full year managers have to take off when a company closes down for the Holidays or Inventory, that is there forced vacation.. Why should they get additional time off for vacation. From my knowledge all the law suits has been caused by Habel and she just went along with them as well as the other administrators and BOE members. I heard they went after all those who refused to play their game or have spoken out against wrong doing. That alone should be against the law. Someone should not be punished for just speaking out on what is wrong and who is actually dong what is right and refuses to against what is wrong. It has been happening in many schools and it is wrong. Doesn't anyone have any ethics and morals any longer? Some just don't care and others are fearful in losing their job, so they turn a blind eye. It does not make it right and the same reason why Penn State is where they are at today? All the bad decisions will catch up to you someday and you will lose public trust and support. A community begins to question and give up on the leaders who are running them. School Superintendents are known to set the tone for the town in which you live in. It is a shame,because Wall at one time was looked at, as one of the best school systems in the state.
Donna arendt September 17, 2012 at 10:30 PM
shake the rugs and watch the Fleas jump for cover..alot of lives were disrupted 2 years ago with all the "lay-offs"..due to "too many sick days,personal days" used..and they were used" legitimately"and "taken away" when used.He will never Know what it's like to have to go to a clinic for health care,choose between food or a car payment..and have to sit back and watch his pension end up in jeopardy because he can't find a full-time job so you don't lose it and have to buy back time.These so called educators play with peoples lives,and cut back on the ones who break their backs to make them look good.
Leave it on the Field September 21, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Oh boy.... The Asbury Park Press 9/17/12 - A house call on 'poster boy' 5:55 AM, Sep 17, 2012 Here we go again. In a scene that is becoming sickeningly familiar to parents and taxpayers at the Jersey Shore, county prosecutors last week raided the home of former Wall schools Superintendent James F. Habel. In 2010, according to the state Department of Education, Habel’s additional pay that year beyond his base pay of $200,273 included $14,250 in allowances, $7,600 in stipends, $15,716 in extra insurance, and $49,932 for a pension annuity. His retirement payout at that point was to be $243,342. Habel received $309,330 for unused days upon his retirement. In 2008, we branded Habel in an editorial as a poster boy for excess, noting, among a long list of perks he received, the free use of a GMC Denali sport-utility vehicle, which he was allowed to fill with up to 150 gallons of gasoline per month.

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