He received a $500 fine and $33 court cost

By Emily Zauzmer
October 25, 2018 01:24 PM
Thomas Tramaglini
Holmdel Township Police Department/Splash News

A former high school superintendent in New Jersey who was arrested for pooping on Holmdel High School’s track and athletic field has pleaded guilty.

Thomas Tramaglini pleaded guilty to public defecation, a rep for the Holmdel Municipal Court confirmed to PEOPLE. He received a $500 fine and $33 court cost, and the charges of lewdness and littering were dismissed.

In NJ.com’s video of the guilty plea, Tramaglini answered “yes” when his attorney asked whether he knew the track and field were public, whether he experienced “the immediate and emergent need to defecate while running” on May 1, whether he defecated “in public under the bleachers near the track and field to relieve the sudden need to do so,” whether he did so “because it was an emergency” and whether he threw away “any litter that you created.”

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Tramaglini answered “no” when his attorney asked whether he knew of any nearby bathrooms that he “could have made it to under those emergent circumstances.”

Matthew Adams, Tramaglini’s attorney, told PEOPLE that the situation was caused by Tramaglini’s medical problem. “It’s a condition called runner’s diarrhea,” he said. “It’s common among long-distance runners.”

The Mayo Clinic defines runner’s diarrhea as a problem that causes “frequent, loose bowel movements during or immediately after a run.”

Adams denied that Tramaglini’s public defecation happened more than once.

“I think we have to step back and acknowledge exactly what he pled guilty to,” Adams said. “He pled guilty to one instance on one date and in a manner that is far different from the narrative that was initially spun in this case. He pled guilty to having a medical emergency that forced him to, as a last resort, secrete himself under the bleachers and take care of that emergency, whereupon after he was done, he cleaned up after himself, didn’t leave any remnants anywhere.”

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“The Holmdel School Resource Officer was alerted by Holmdel High School staff and coaches that they were finding human feces, on or near the area of the High School track / football field on a daily basis,” the Holmdel Township Police Department said on Facebook in May.

“The SRO, along with school staff, monitored the area and was able to identify a subject responsible for the acts,” the Police Department continued at the time. “Thomas Tramaglini, age 42, of Matawan, NJ, was charged with Lewdness, Littering, and Defecating in Public.”

In July, the Kenilworth Board of Education wrote in an online statement that Tramaglini had resigned as superintendent, a role he had held since 2016. In August, the Board of Education announced that it had appointed Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum to serve as acting/interim superintendent. Kenilworth Public Schools neighbor Holmdel High School’s school district.

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“Based on events unrelated to his service for Kenilworth, it has become clear to both Dr. Tramaglini and the Kenilworth Board of Education that his continued service as Superintendent of Schools has become too much of a distraction to the main mission of the district,” the July statement said.

Tramaglini is planning to pursue legal action against the Police Department for allegedly taking and releasing his mugshot unjustly.

“In August, a notice of tort claims was filed by Tom to the Holmdel Township, which is a precursor to filing a civil lawsuit against a municipal entity in the state of New Jersey,” Adams told PEOPLE.

“Those offenses [that Tramaglini was charged with] do not give rise to the police’s ability to go in, process, arrest and photograph … a subject,” Adams said. “Nonetheless, the Holmdel Police Department … took Tom in, photographed him and then released him on his way.”

“That evening that photograph that was unlawfully taken … went around the world, went viral,” Adams said. “The damage that that photograph did to Tom’s reputation, career and family is potentially insurmountable.”

The Holmdel Township Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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