|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a civilian employee of the New Jersey State Police was charged today with posing as an inspector to coerce two men from South Carolina into giving her one of the generators they were selling at a roadside location in Burlington County, N.J., after Hurricane Sandy.
Marcella Friedman, 49, of Oaklyn, N.J., who is employed as a State Police communications systems technician, was charged by complaint with third-degree theft by deception. State Police detectives served a summons on her today. The charge stems from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, which will prosecute the case.
It is alleged that on Oct. 31, 2012, Friedman confronted two men from South Carolina who were selling generators at the intersection of Routes 206 and 537 in Springfield, Burlington County. She was wearing a field jacket with the State Police logo and was carrying a handheld police radio. Friedman allegedly falsely represented that she had authority to regulate vendors and shut down those without a permit. She allegedly threatened to fine the men and confiscate their merchandise, but said she would allow them to continue selling generators if they gave her a generator free of charge. It is alleged that the two men gave Friedman an 8,500-watt generator, which she gave to a relative, who then sold it to an unknowing third party. She was on disability leave from the State Police at the time and remains on leave.
“It’s unconscionable that anyone would use their employment with a law enforcement agency or the trappings of that agency to unlawfully obtain a benefit, as alleged here,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “We will not tolerate this type of misconduct, which has the potential to undermine public trust in law enforcement. The State Police swiftly investigated and uncovered this alleged conduct.”
“We will continue to work with the New Jersey State Police to target corruption at all levels of government and send a strong deterrent message to those who would exploit their positions for personal gain,” said Director Stephen J. Taylor of the Division of Criminal Justice.
“Our troopers and civilian employees sacrificed so much in their response to Hurricane Sandy, many working days without ever returning home. To see anyone abusing the State Police name for personal gain in the wake of this disaster is contemptible,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The complaint is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because the charge is an indictable offense, the case will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.
The case was investigated by Lt. Gary Sandes of the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and Deputy Attorney General Peter W. Lee of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.