What to Know
- A fired Jersey City Police Department veteran officer says he was making $50K-$100K a year illegally, and his bosses looked the other way
- He says he was one of eight "pick" coordinators who controlled off-duty jobs for Jersey City officers
- The officer could face prison; so far, 11 Jersey City officers have pleaded guilty in the federal probe into the off-duty and no-show jobs
A convicted Jersey City cop is dishing dirt about a decades-old off-duty fraud and bribery scheme that has ensnared nearly a dozen officers in a wide-ranging federal probe.
The officer, a 14-year veteran, told the I-Team in an exclusive interview that he was one of eight "pick" coordinators who controlled off-duty jobs, including traffic control, for private contractors. Off-duty work is only permitted when officers aren’t on patrol and with authorization by the city.
"The contractors would call me, I assigned the jobs out. I kept the best ones for myself," he said.
"I used to work two or three jobs at a time. If there was a job in front of me, I’d be working my patrol shift, and that job simultaneuously," he added.
The fired officer, who faces a possible prison sentence, said he was making anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 a year illegally and that bosses looked the other way.
"This went on unchecked for years," he said.
So far, 11 officers have pleaded guilty in the federal investigation that focused on off-duty and no-show jobs. The highest ranking officer to be indicted is former police chief Phil Zacche, who admitted that he bilked the Housing Authority out of tens of thousands of dollars for off-duty security jobs he never worked. He’ll be sentenced next month.
Several sources told the I-Team other officers are being criminally investigated.
Jersey City's director of public safety, James Shea, said," It was a scheme that went on for a long time. We’ve already closed down over 50 percent of the work that was being done. We ended it completely in the housing developments. We ended the escorts of trucking. We started where we saw the most potential for corruption. License premises, individual homeowners, the trucks that needed escorts."
He added that the off-duty housing authority program ended months ago and the overall off-duty program will be eliminated by the end of the year.
"It was a corrupting influence on our entire department because there was so much money available at these side jobs," he said.
Shea added it is a strong possibility there will be more arrests by federal authorities.
The president of the Jersey City Police Officers Benevelont Association, Carmine Disbow, said in a statement to News 4's I-Team: "A program that puts approximately 150 extra police officers on the streets on a daily basis, at no cost to taxpayers, is a critical component of keeping our residents safe; yet Mayor Fulop and Public Safety Director Shea have refused to engage in any meaningful conversation about how to reform and overhaul it."
He added, "To paint the entire department as corrupt is unfair, unwarranted and simply wrong. If an apple has a few rotten apples you do not chop down the whole tree."
The convicted officer said he believes there are 20 to 30 more officers and supervisors still on the police force who were part of the corruption scheme.