A former New Jersey police chief facing retrial on civil rights charges was sentenced Wednesday to more than two years in prison for lying to the FBI during an investigation into those allegations.
Former Bordentown Police Chief Frank Nucera, who is retired, was convicted in 2019 after a trial in which a jury deadlocked on separate counts of hate crime assault and deprivation of civil rights.
Those counts stemmed from an episode in which Nucera, who is white, allegedly slammed a handcuffed Black man’s head into a doorjamb in 2016. Prosecutors said an officer secretly recorded comments made by Nucera over the course of a year out of concern over what they termed “racist remarks and hostility toward African Americans.” Federal prosecutors plan to retry Nucera, possibly as early as this fall.
The 64-year-old Nucera, who resigned from the police force in Jan. 2017 upon learning of the federal investigation, won't begin serving his 28-month sentence until the remaining counts are resolved, a judge ordered Wednesday. He remains free on bail. The sentencing was previously delayed by a federal judge, who cited “serious medical issues” that hospitalized the defendant for nine days in February.
U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler had previously rejected Nucera's motion to have the conviction thrown out due to what his attorney said was a taint of anti-police bias on the jury, which comprised nine white people and three Black women.
“I am always respectful of the judge's sentencing, and I'm glad the judge didn't impose the sentence the government sought, which was 48 months,” Nucera's attorney, Rocco Cipparone, said Wednesday. “I of course feel for my client in these circumstances because he has suffered substantially.”
People convicted of lying to the FBI often receive sentences of probation of six months. Kugler had indicated during last year's hearing that he would consider a sentence above what federal guidelines recommend, citing Nucera’s position as a police chief and a need to deter future offenses.