Jersey Sheriff Heads to Port Authority Post

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A long-serving New Jersey sheriff has abruptly resigned to take a post with the Port Authority Police Department.

    Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale announced Tuesday he was leaving his $151,000-a-year position, citing family reasons.

    Speziale began his new position Wednesday as the deputy superintendent of the Port Authority police and the assistant director of public safety for the Port Authority.

    Speziale is overseeing about 1,600 employees in the No. 2 position at the agency at a yearly salary of $198,510, Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said.

    Speziale, a Democratic party power broker, said he'll donate the $1 million he raised for his re-election campaign to charity.

    The 50-year-old formerly worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration and the New York City Police Department, alongside former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who's serving a four-year sentence on corruption charges.

    Speziale's tenure as sheriff, a job he was first elected to in 2001, helped burnish his reputation as a powerful Democratic fundraiser and colorful figure who sometimes got personally involved in apprehending suspects. He sold the movie rights to his memoir and acted in the 2009 movie "Brooklyn's Finest."

    Speziale was also the target of criticism and a federal judge's rebuke for conditions at the Passaic County Jail, which he oversaw. An agreement with federal immigration authorities to house immigrant detainees was suspended following controversy over their treatment.

    The state Civil Service Commission decided this week that Speziale had to fire eight recently hired investigators because he had exceeded the number of allowable patronage appointments.

    said Speziale would be missed at the Sheriff's Department, spokesman Bill Maer said.

    "The Port Authority should be pleased to have a professional with his level of expertise and experience," he said.