A Paterson police sergeant accused of leading a group of city officers who illegally stopped and searched numerous people and vehicles and stole thousands of dollars from them has been convicted of falsifying a police report.
Michael Cheff was also found guilty Thursday of conspiring to deprive an individual of civil rights, according to federal prosecutors. He now faces up to 30 years in prison.
Prosecutors said Cheff led a group of five officers who illegally stopped and searched people in the city on a routine basis and stole money from them. Some of the officers also routinely gave Cheff a portion of the funds they stole.
All five of the officers have pleaded guilty to various charges and testified against Cheff, claiming he took part in the thefts that occurred from 2016 to 2018. They said Cheff approved their false reports and helped them log evidence to make it appear they were doing legitimate police work. They also said he ensured complaints against the officers went nowhere.