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Utica School Superintendent Admits to Public Corruption


The long-time superintendent of the Utica City School District (UCSD) pleaded guilty to the felony charge of public corruption for using taxpayer funds to help support a political campaign relating to the 2021 Utica City School Board election and a non-school-related fundraiser. As part of the plea agreement, Bruce Karam will serve five years of probation, pay restitution of $12,000, complete 250 hours of community service and agreed to a consent order to reduce his pension benefits.

“Karam took vital funds meant to support the education of students and instead used them to serve his own needs,” DiNapoli said. “As a consequence of his actions, he is now a convicted felon and has been held accountable for his crimes. I thank District Attorney Carville and the State Police for their partnership in rooting out public corruption.”

District Attorney Carville said: “It is imperative that local leaders understand the responsibility and trust that the public has in the work they do. Those who chose to abuse that trust are not fit to serve and will be held accountable.”

New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven G. James said: “This case demonstrates the hard work of all our law enforcement partners who are focused on the same goal – holding those who break our laws accountable. Mr. Karam violated the public trust by stealing taxpayer money intended to provide a quality education for students at the Utica City School District. I commend the diligent work of our State Police members, our partners at the State Comptroller’s Office and the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office, for their hard work in putting an end to this dishonest act.”

Karam and a co-defendant, former Utica Mayor and UCSD School Board President Louis LaPolla, were arrested in November 2023.

Comptroller DiNapoli’s Office, the district attorney, and the State Police determined that Karam was using taxpayer money and school resources including labor, stamps, envelopes, and other supplies to send election mailers in support of a school board candidate.

He was also accused of using school resources to send invitations for a non-school-related fundraiser for a purported charity run by LaPolla. Fundraiser fliers for the charity were inserted by school district employees during school hours in envelopes the school district paid for and were mailed using the district’s stamps.

Karam served as UCSD superintendent from 2011 until he was put on leave in October 2022. He was fired by the school board shortly after his arrest.

Karam pleaded guilty in Oneida County Court before Judge Michael L. Dwyer and is to be sentenced on April 19. LaPolla’s next court date is April 10. The consent order will be filed by the district attorney in Oneida County Supreme Court.

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