Police misconduct tarnishes the Division's image and corrodes
the public's trust.
Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park announced a 39-count indictment against two Plainfield police officers Monday, alleging a fake overtime scheme that is said to have netted the pair $11,000 in unearned payments.
You can read the reports in the Ledger (here) and the Courier (here), which are based on a detailed press release issued by the Prosecutor's public information officer, former Plainfield beat reporter Mark Spivey.
I had been hearing for months that Internal Affairs was looking into overtime irregularities involving the two -- Sgt. Leslie Knight and Lt. James Abney. One of the allegations that was in circulation is that both officers billed the city for overtime while serving as members of the Planning Board, which is a volunteer activity.
It is also rumored that both turned down an offer to make restitution and take a penalty of suspension and/or demotion.
The allegations date back to 2012 and 2013, during the term of former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs. In the United States, indicted persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Followers of Plainfield Today will recall that I have posted several times over the Robinson-Briggs years of morale issues in the Police Division arising from favoritism run amok and political retribution against those who protest (see a sample list at end of this post).
The total involved in Monday's indictment -- $11,000 -- does not seem that large: split between two people over two years, it comes to about $50 per week each. Chump change compared to the lifetime salaries (and pensions) the two will lose if convicted. Plus losing the right of public employment forever.
One interesting angle on which to speculate: If the duo refused an offer of restitution, was it predicated on believing that Mayor Robinson-Briggs encouraged or approved their actions? If so, will Her Honor be compelled to offer testimony at the trial? That would be a reason to schlep down to the County Courthouse.
Nevertheless, it's a sad day for Plainfield and the Police Division.
Here is a sample of past Plainfield Today stories on police morale, favoritism and political punishment --
- 11/12/2013: "The Mayor who thinks she is Queen" -- Unfunded and irregular police promotions.
- 07/23/2013: "Sharon's meddling casts pall over Police Division" -- Time to end favoritism.
- 05/20/2011: "Guerilla warfare between officers, Hellwig?" -- Crime scene tape around Hellwig's parking space.
- 06/21/2010: "Hellwig-related police purge continues" -- Punishment for disclosure of Director Hellwig's misuse of city vehicle in romp with male prostitute.
- 06/14/2010: "Sergeant who filed report on Hellwig demoted, suspended" -- Retaliation over the male hooker incident.
- 08/25/2009: "More unanswered questions on police conduct" -- Jerry Green uses police at Dem Committee meeting.
- 05/14/2009: "Will Mayor sweep cop caper under carpet?" -- Misuse of police vehicle.
- 10/15/2008: "Once more with the bodyguards. Oy." -- Unanswered questions about Robinson-Briggs' bodyguards.
- 10/08/2008: "Plainfield Mayor loses bodyuguards: Right move, wrong reason?" -- Unanswered questions about how Sharon got bodyguards.
- 03/30/2007: "Politicizing the Police Division" -- On the third suspension of Police Chief Ed Santiago.
-- Dan Damon [follow]