Teacher pleads guilty to disability fraud

John Brishcar

A Warren County Middle School teacher pleaded guilty in New Jersey on Tuesday to bilking a state disability fund out of almost $249,000 while he was teaching in Front Royal and West Virginia.

John A. Brishcar, 59, of Front Royal, is scheduled to be sentenced April 10 for second-degree theft by deception.

A plea agreement reached by Brishcar and the prosecution calls for him to be sentenced to three years in a New Jersey prison. The agreement also requires Brishcar to pay back $248,960, the amount he received from the disability fund as a result of a bogus medical condition.

In a written statement, Acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman called Brishcar’s crime “particularly egregious, continuing for a decade and involving nearly a quarter million dollars in stolen pension funds.”

Elie Honig, director of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, also condemned Brishcar.

“It’s unconscionable that this teacher lied about his condition so he could collect a state disability pension at the same time that he was receiving a full-time salary in another state,” Honig said.

Brishcar’s attorney, Paul Norris, did not return telephone messages left for him.

Brishcar worked as a middle school science teacher in Piscataway, New Jersey, before he moved to a job as a substitute teacher in West Virginia where he worked 105 days during the 2003-2004 school year.

In 2003, he applied for disability retirement pay, citing “prolonged stress and chronic back pain” as reasons why he could not continue working as a teacher. Authorities in New Jersey say Brishcar submitted medical records and the results of an independent medical examination to back up his application. As a result, state officials approved the application in 2004 and made the monthly payments retroactive to Sept. 1, 2003.

Brishcar began teaching full-time at Warren County Middle School in 2005. The New Jersey Attorney General’s office stated that he is suspended from his teaching job.

Greg Drescher, assistant superintendent for instruction with Warren County Public Schools, refused to disclose Brishcar’s employment status with the school system.

“At this time, this continues to be an active personnel matter that we cannot comment further on,” Drescher said in an email message.

Brishcar does not appear in Warren County Middle School’s online staff directory.

Brishcar was one of three teachers in the nation honored in 2012 by the National School Boards Association Technology Leadership Network for innovative uses of technology in the classroom. He is also the author of a science textbook.

Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, said Brishcar continued to receive disability payments “until not that long ago.”

Aseltine said he had few details about how state officials learned that Brishcar was receiving disability payments while continuing his teaching career.

“I can tell you authorities received a tip that he was working full-time in Virginia,” Aseltine said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com