5 Edison cops indicted in alleged no-show job scandal

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

Five Edison officers were indicted Friday over an alleged no-show job scandal in which authorities say the cops pulled in tens of thousands of dollars by taking advantage of a corrupt system in the police department.

A grand jury in Middlesex County handed up the indictments charging each of the officers with two counts of theft, two counts of official misconduct, financial facilitation of criminal activity and conspiracy, according to the county prosecutor’s office.

Those charged included Sgt. Ioannis “John” Mpletsakis, 38, of Edison; officer James Panagoulakos, 32, of Edison; officer Gregory Makras, 33, of Cranford; and Sgt. Brian Rossmeyer, 41, of Bedminster.

The 11-count indictment also named officer Paul Pappas, whose arrest in March sparked a multi-pronged probe into the department. Pappas was indicted on five counts of official misconduct, including a pattern of misconduct over a two-year span, in a separate case three weeks ago.

The indictments handed up Friday also accuse the five of a pattern of official misconduct over of the last 21/2 years.

In addition, Mpletsakis is facing a new charge of organizing street crime and Makras has been charged with hindering, uttering a forged document and fabricating physical evidence, according to the prosecutor’s office.

The months-long investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office into the police department’s side jobs, and the system for assigning the shifts, could implicate as many as 20 officers, including those already charged, sources have told NJ Advance Media. The department has 170 sworn officers.

County Prosecutor Andrew Carey has said he expects more officers to be charged in the alleged scam, but the office has yet to bring criminal charges against anyone else in the department. It was not known whether or not any of the others’ involvement was criminal or will be referred to internal affairs for internal discipline.

Carey said Friday the investigation was “very active” and ongoing.

2de_sl_cops_gallery00052841a_011.jpegFour Edison police officers appear in State Superior Court in New Brunswick before Judge Michael Toto related to collecting side-job pay for no-show jobs on Aug. 21, 2018. (Keith Muccilli | For NJ Advance Media 

The five cops, who are each facing more than a decade in prison with the charges, have been accused of taking pay for off-duty jobs, in which the officers have full police duties but are working security or construction details, but not working the shift.

In some cases, the cops were clocking in at three places at once, sources say.

The voluntary details were assigned from inside the department and pay between $40 to $90 per hour. The contracted jobs are paid through the township’s payroll but the bill is footed by the third party that requested the job.

One of the officers, Mpletsakis, made more than Police Chief Thomas Bryan for two years.

Name Base Salary TOTAL PAY 2018 (Until 5/23) TOTAL PAY 2017 TOTAL PAY 2016
Sgt. Ioannis Mpletsakis $149,258.51 $105,301.15 $247,742.60 $217,068.77
Off. James Panagoulakos $94,984.03 $78,119.59 $193,569.97 $151,611.14
Off. Paul Pappas $130,849.06 $71,515.15 $206,280.00 $198,334.23
Off. Gregory Makras $125,979.98 $85,353.31 $191,925.47 $170,709.56
Sgt. Brian Rossmeyer $144,465.78 $85,788.68 $200,420.34 $175,694.74

NJ Advance Media requested copies of those contracts when it reviewed the off-duty earnings in May, but the township clerk said no records exist.

Pappas sat down with investigators in August and, according to Assistant Prosecutor Christine D’Elia, his voluntary interview was expected to lead to charges against one of the indicted cops.

The 44-year-old officer, who is suspended without pay, was arrested in March after authorities say he drove to New Brunswick and slashed his girlfriend’s tire. He was on duty at the time.

That arrest put the department under a microscope and also led to allegations of steroid use and illegally running license plates through law enforcement databases.

The four others indicted on Friday were suspended without pay when charged.

Carey has also spoken out publicly against township officials, who he says “are responsible for allowing a system of fiscal irresponsibility to exist.”

“The assignment of extra-duty jobs being handled by multiple individuals with very little oversight, paired with an inadequate system of accounting, has directly resulted in nepotism and corruption,” he said in a statement previously.

Andres Rosa, a retired Edison officer, had handled the books for police force’s off-duty work, but since news broke of the alleged scam, the town has moved to hire a third party to handle the assignments.

Police in Edison pull in roughly $3 million per year in those details, according to a review of payroll records by the news outlet.

“While the Edison Police Department has recently taken important steps to ensure that the extra-duty jobs are now assigned and completed in a legitimate fashion, this investigation is very much active and continuing,” Carey said.

The officers are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 6.

Originally published here by nj.com.

Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

Leave a Comment