Thomas Rica, a New Jersey public works inspector, admitted in court on Wednesday morning to swiping $460,000 in quarters, or 1.8 million quarters in all, over the past two years, according to The Record. For his job, Rica had access to the collection room where change from city-wide parking meters was stored. He was originally arrested in January 2013 for illegally pocketing over $500 and then depositing that money in his personal bank account. Upon further investigation, police found that Rica had been lifting money for a total of 25 months. In this morning's plea deal, Rica admitted to four counts of third-degree theft, and so will avoid jail time.
We hardly need to point out that 1.8 million quarters is, well, a lot. But let's break that figure down to try to figure out his daily change-hoarding routine. How many quarters did he take a day? And how much weight is that? We can use some basic division and some rough estimations to figure out the details.
According to TimeAndDate.com, which calculates the number of workdays within a specific time period, there were 522 workdays between January 10, 2013 — Rica's day of arrest — and December 10, 2010, 25 months prior. That's the period during which he admitted to taking those 1.8 million quarters. Thus, 1.8 million divided by 522 comes out to about 3400 quarters taken per day, or about $850 every day at work. On top of his $86,000 yearly salary, that's a nice extra to take home on the regular.
The question, though, is how he carried all those quarters home without being noticed. For one, the jingling of 3400 quarters would make a racket and would be easily heard by nearby city workers. More importantly, with every quarter weighing .0125 pounds, Rica would need some huge pants pockets to take home those extra 43 pounds every day. That's manageable, for sure, but it's on the heavier side of what a middle-aged man could be expected to carry home every day. A photo of Rica from Patch suggests the 43-year-old is decently in-shape and favors a casual pair of blue jeans. Lugging a bunch of mini-George Washingtons would be a good way for him to get a workout and keep that figure.
It seems more likely that Rica had some help carrying the coins from a bag, or he made multiple trips per day. We'll just have to imagine it was a burlap bag with a mischievous "$" sign on the front.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.