Former Utica City School Superintendent Bruce Karam has been sentenced on felony corruption charges as part of a plea bargain deal he agreed to in Oneida County Court. Karam was charged in regards to the misuse of taxpayer funds to support a political campaign related to the 2021 Utica School Board election, as well as a fundraiser for then board President Lou LaPolla.

Karam will serve five years of probation, pay $12,000 in restitution, and complete 250 hours of community service. He also agreed to an additional restitution of $150,000.

"The restitution from the proceedings will be directed back towards educating our students—those from whom these resources were unjustly diverted," according to Emily Benedict, a spokesperson for the Utica city school District. "The District will utilize these funds to directly support and enhance learning opportunities for our students in need."

Earlier this year, Louis LaPolla - the former Utica Mayor and longtime Board President - accepted a plea deal for his part in the scheme, that includes serving 60-days in domicile restrictions, three years of probation, and he was ordered to pay $3,100 in restitution. LaPolla still faces federal charges from the U.S. Attorney's Office.


The Board of Education issued the following statement on Karam and the investigation process:

Throughout these proceedings, our district has faced significant financial burdens. The recovery of these funds is a crucial step towards alleviating some of the financial pressures and reinvesting in our educational mission.

Investigations by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office, the district attorney, and the State Police uncovered evidence of Karam utilizing taxpayer money and school resources, including labor, stamps, envelopes, and other supplies, for sending election mailers in support of a school board candidate. Additionally, he was accused of using school resources to send invitations for a non-school-related fundraiser for a purported charity run by Louis LaPolla.

Karam's co-defendant, former Utica Mayor and UCSD School Board President Louis LaPolla, accepted a plea deal that includes serving 60 days in domicile restrictions, three years of probation, and paying $3,100 in restitution.

While these legal issues have been ongoing, under the stewardship of Dr. Kathleen Davis, our Board of Education and district leadership have thoroughly examined and scrutinized our operating structure. We've made decisive recommendations for improvements and implemented guardrails and layers of checks and balances to strengthen and fortify the foundation of our school district operations and administration. We remain steadfastly dedicated to fostering a thriving and supportive environment for our students, staff, teachers, and administration.

We are on the road toward closing this challenging chapter for our district. We are immensely thankful for the support and diligence of law enforcement, the Oneida County District Attorney’s office, and the New York State Comptroller’s office in bringing these matters to a resolution. We have the utmost confidence that these agencies have conducted thorough investigations and that appropriate parties are being held fully accountable for their actions.

We appreciate your continued support and patience through this ongoing situation and extend our gratitude to all involved. Please know that we are committed to keeping our community informed and will provide further updates as additional information becomes available.

Karam was named the Utica city school District Superintendent in 2011. On October 18, 2022, Karam was placed on administrative leave and he was ultimately fired on November 26, 2023.

LaPolla served as Utica's Mayor from 1984 to 1995, and he served on Utica's Board of Education from 1997 until 2022, and was President of the Board from 2018 to 2022. Prior to that, Lapolla was a teacher in the Utica School District.


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