WILKINS AVOIDS JAIL WITH GUILTY PLEA
Former Red Bank Middle School Principal Terence Wilkins will avoid a prison sentence following a guilty plea in connection with an arson fraud case in Newark, a spokesman for Essex County Paula Dow confirmed today.
Spokesman Paul Loriquet said Wilkins entered a guilty plea on June 13. But Loriquet said he was unable to determine from a computer outline exactly what charge Wilkins pleaded to. Detailed case documents were not immediately available, and the assistant prosecutor who handled the case was away on vacation, Loriquet said.
With the plea, Loriquet said, Wilkins will be entered into a pretrial intervention program and avoid the jail term he might have gotten had he been found guilty at trial. PTI usually involves community service, Loriquet said.
A message left at Wilkins’ home number was not immediately returned. His attorney, Steven E. Nelson, was said by his office to be unavailable for immediate comment.
Wilkins resigned from his position May 1, one week after being indicted on, and pleading not guilty to, his alleged role in torching a leased car on which he was facing some $9,000 in excess mileage charges.
In accepting his resignation, the Red Bank Board of Ed agreed to pay Wilkins’ salary through June 30. Numerous parents, teachers and administrators expressed regret over the circumstances, offering praise for Wilkins’ skills as an educator.
Maria Iozzi, head of bilingual studies at the school, was named interim principal while the board searches for a permanent replacement.
The arson fraud case has also ensnared two other educators. Kenyatta O’Bryant of North Plainfield, a 36-year-old counselor at Vailsburg Middle School, is accused of arranging for Wilkins’ 2004 Acura TL to be torched in Newark in April, 2006. O’Bryant is also charged with burning his own 2002 BMW 525i in Newark’s Weequahic Park that month.
Amanda Wright-Stafford, 51, the principal of the Lincoln Avenue Elementary School in Orange, was indicted in May on charges related to the alleged arson of her 2000 Honda Passport, which was found burning in East Orange in 2006, Dow’s office reported.