PROVIDENCE — Former North Providence School Superintendent Bridget Morisseau on Friday pleaded no contest to embezzlement for misuse of a school-issued credit card.
Morisseau, 49, who now lives in Texas, received three years’ probation and agreed to pay restitution of $9,434 as part of a plea agreement. Prosecutors dismissed a second felony charge of obtaining property by false pretenses.
The North Providence police have said they began investigating after an internal audit found “alleged misuse of the taxpayer-funded credit card” by Morisseau, who resigned in July 2018. The audit found the school department credit card had been used for a $79 pet carrier from Amazon, $511 in airfare, $1,000 for WGB Fine Catering, and $2,270 for the Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Connecticut.
“Taking advantage of taxpayers by using public monies for personal expenses is not only illegal, it’s offensive,” said Colonel David P. Tikoian, the North Providence police chief. “This type of behavior erodes the foundation of integrity and ethics citizens expect and deserve from those placed in positions of trust and responsibility, such as a school superintendent.”
Morisseau agreed to repay North Providence $4,621 for personal use of the school department credit card, and the remainder of the restitution related to reimbursements and vacation time, prosecutors said.
Morisseau’s attorney, S. Joshua Macktaz, said Morisseau would make restitution within a week.
“Bridget is happy that we put this behind her,” Macktaz said afterward. “She accepts responsibility for the mistake that she made and she is happy to have it behind her. This is an appropriate disposition to the case.”
Because the sentence is straight probation as opposed to jail time, it’s not considered a conviction for the purposes of job applications in the future, Macktaz said.
Morisseau’s plea in Providence County Superior Court also required her to admit to facts in the case. Superior Court Magistrate Richard Raspallo told her a no-contest plea is “for all purposes the same as a guilty plea in the State of Rhode Island.”
Tikoian said North Providence Police Detective Christopher Cote worked with the Rhode Island State Police financial crimes unit and Attorney General Peter Neronha’s public integrity unit on the case.
“Although this most recent public corruption case is unfortunately one of many that involved a public servant who was appointed to a position of trust and responsibility,” Tikoian said, “the residents of North Providence can take some satisfaction in knowing their police department took proactive action, launching an investigation into this wrongdoing, which resulted in successful prosecution and repayment of funds to the town.”