A former Monmouth County teacher who lost his teaching certificate due to a criminal conviction will keep his pension.

John Caucino taught for the Monmouth County Vocational School District from September 1993 until August 2004. But before he took up teaching, Caucino worked for a mortgage company.

While working for the lender, Caucino took part in a scheme to alter bank loan documents for personal gain, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 1995.

Four years later, in 1999, Caucino was sentenced to five years of probation and forced to pay restitution. That same year, federal authorities informed the New Jersey Board of Education about the situation. Then it wasn't until June 2004 that the state notified Caucino that his conviction made him ineligible to teach.

Monmouth County Vocational School District building (Google Maps)
Monmouth County Vocational School District building (Google Maps)

Caucino lost his job and pension. He fruitlessly appealed the decision; a judge ruled that the bank fraud was equivalent to theft by deception, which is a crime that disqualifies a person from being a teacher.

But earlier this month, an appeals court ruled that he should have kept his pension. The decision nearly two decades later finds that his pension could only be withheld for "misconduct occurring during the member's public service."

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"Caucino's criminal conduct, which took place well before he started teaching, was unrelated to his conduct as a teacher," the ruling states.

Cuacino's attorney Arnold Lakind did not respond to a request for comment. Lakind told NJ.com that his client was "very pleased" with the ruling.

“Hopefully others who devote years to teaching for inadequate wages will no longer lose their retirement benefits based upon mistakes made in their youth,” Lakind said.

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