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Acting Superintendent, School Violence Threat, Schroeder's 'Criminal Scheme' Top December's News

Here's a look at the most popular stories from Westwood, Hillsdale and Washington Township in December.

Westwood Student Who Made Threat Charged With Fake Weapon Possession

Police arrested an 18-year-old Westwood Jr./Sr. High School student who allegedly made threats against another student Wednesday.

Westwood and Washington Township Police conducted a joint investigation. A borough home was searched and some evidence was collected before the arrest was made, according to a press release from Westwood Police Chief Frank Regino.

Regino said he could not specify what was taken from the home due to an ongoing investigation, but said that the man had been charged with possession of an imitation weapon.

"At this time we do not believe that there exists any threat that could be carried out against the schools in the district," Regino said in the release.

Westwood School Board to Appoint Acting Superintendent For Remainder of School Year

Westwood Regional Schools may have a new superintendent through the end of the school year.

The school board is scheduled to vote Thursday on appointing current Director of Elementary Education and District Technology Rory McCourt as the acting superintendent through June 30.

McCourt was already credited as the acting superintendent in a letter to parents sent after the recent school shootings in Connecticut.

There is no mention of Superintendent Geoffrey Zoeller in the meeting's agenda.

Westwood School Board Plans Another Closed Meeting to Discuss Zoeller

The Westwood Regional Board of Education is scheduled to hold another closed meeting this week to discuss Superintendent Geoffrey Zoeller.

The board will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday and "immediately enter into closed Executive Session for the purpose of discussion of Personnel/Superintendent of Schools," according to a post on the district's website. The board also held closed meetings before and after their last public meeting to discuss Zoeller.

Board members are not permitted to discuss personnel issues unless the employee waives his right to privacy.

AG: Schroeder Swindled $5 Million in 'Criminal Scheme'

State Assemblyman Robert Schroeder laundered money, passed bad checks and conspired to swindle more than $5 million in a criminal scheme, New Jersey officials allege in a complaint filed by the Attorney General's Office December 10.

Deputy Attorney General Derek A. Miller is seeking to seize more than $1,500 and a vehicle which Schroeder allegedly used in his scheme. Schroeder would obtain loans and, when payments were due, issue checks from at least 10 different businesses he owned or controlled, according to the complaint. The checks were returned due to insufficient funds and the loans remained unpaid.

Car Flips Off Westwood Road onto Resident's Lawn

A custom roll bar likely saved the life of a man who flipped his car off the road, according to Westwood Police Chief Frank Regino.

The man was driving northbound on Forest Avenue at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday — and was probably speeding — when he hit a curb and flipped, according to Regino.

Neighbors said they found the man crawling out the back window of the partially crushed vehicle. He suffered no serious injuries.

The driver had "put quite a bit of money" into customizing the car, and a roll bar he installed probably saved his life, Regino said.

Westwood School Board Appoints McCourt as Acting Superintendent

Rory McCourt will lead the Westwood Regional School District for the rest of the school year.

McCourt, the district's director of elementary education and technology, was officially appointed the acting superintendent by a unanimous vote from the school board during their meeting Thursday. McCourt, who had apparently already been filling the role, thanked the board.

"It truly is an extremely humbling experience," McCourt said.

McCourt's appointment lasts through June 30. His existing employment contract will remain in effect.

A grand jury indicted State Assemblyman Robert Schroeder Friday on charges that he stole $1.8 million and wrote bad checks valued at more than $3.4 million, according to Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa.

Schroeder, 52, was charged with issuing bad checks, theft by deception, and misconduct by a corporate official. He faces five to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $150,000 for each of the three offenses.

Schroeder Sued by Kearny Bank

Another bank has sued State Assemblyman Robert Schroeder.

Attorneys for Kearny Federal Savings Bank, of Fairfield, filed a complaint November 13 which alleges Schroeder has failed to make payments on a mortgage since May.

The bank gave Schroeder a $900,000 loan for 100-101 West Street in Hillsdale in August 2009, according to the complaint. Schroeder was supposed to make monthly payments on the mortgage until 2034, but allegedly stopped making them earlier this year.

The U.S. Army has moved to debar State Assemblyman Robert Schroeder from doing business with the federal government, according to a report on BusinessWeek.com.

The decision follows a suspension of Schroeder and his two Hillsdale-based companies, All Points International Distributors (API) and Hercules Global Logistics, by the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) because he allegedly failed to deliver tents to a military base in Afghanistan and failed to pay about $155,000 to an Afghan subcontractor.

The U.S. government paid API $617,000 for the aircraft maintenance tents, according to a quarterly SIGAR report.

Westwood Turning Off Holiday Lights in Unity With Newtown

Westwood officials are asking residents to leave their holiday lights and displays turned off for one day to show unity with the residents of Newtown, Conn.

The borough will keep its own lights off Wednesday, and is asking residents to do the same "to show the residents of Newtown, Connecticut that they are not alone in the darkness," according to a resolution passed by the Westwood Council Tuesday.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Jim Leggate at Jim.Leggate@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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