Utica school superintendent and former Utica mayor arrested for theft of public funds

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -New York State Police announced the arrest of the long-time superintendent of the Utica City School District Bruce Karam and the former Utica Mayor and UCSD School Board President Louis LaPolla for allegedly using taxpayer funds to pay for political campaigns and a non-school related fundraiser.

Investigators with the Oneida district attorney, the state comptroller, and the state police determined that Karam was using school money and resources including stamps, envelopes, and other supplies to send election mailers in support of school board candidates that he favored and who determined his contract, salary and authority.

He also is 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. LaPolla was allegedly aware that school resources were being used on his behalf.  

Karam also allegedly tried to cover up his actions by attempting to persuade school district employees to say that these resources were being used for a valid purpose.

The value of the unlawful use of taxpayer funds totaled $14,649, including $9,775 in stamps, $1,015 in supplies, and $3,859 in compensation for hours of work. 

Karam served as UCSD superintendent from 2011 until he was put on leave Oct. 18, 2022. He currently remains on leave.

Karam and LaPolla were both charged with grand larceny. Karam was also charged with additional counts of grand larceny, public corruption, as well as corruption of the government.

They were arraigned in Oneida County Court and their next court date is Dec. 1.