The former mayor of Utica and former president of the city’s school board, and the city school district’s longtime superintendent have been arrested and accused of using taxpayer money for political campaigns and a fundraiser not connected with the school.
New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office, with the New York State Police and Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara, announced the arrests of former Mayor Louis LaPolla and Superintendent Bruce Karam on charges of grand larceny and public corruption, with Karam facing additional grand larceny, public corruption and corruption of government charges.
A press release says investigators found Karam was using money and supplies from the schools to “send election mailers in support of school board candidates that he favored and who determined his contract, salary and authority.” Karam, also accused of using school supplies to send non-school-related fundraiser invitations for a charity run by LaPolla, allegedly tried to cover himself “by attempting to persuade school district employees to untruthfully say that these resources were being used for a valid purpose,” officials said. They added that LaPolla was allegedly aware of Karam’s actions on his behalf.
Karam has been on administrative leave since October 2022, according to the Utica School District. LaPolla, meanwhile, was federally indicted in September on mail fraud charges stemming from a scholarship fund in honor of his late wife. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York says LaPolla spent almost all of the nearly tens of thousands of dollars collected for the fund on himself.
“Utica City School District officials and staff have and will continue to cooperate with the District Attorney’s investigation,” a statement from the school district read.
Karam and LaPolla were arraigned in Oneida County Court, and will make their next appearance on Dec. 1.