JERSEY CITY — If the police motto is “to protect and serve,” former Police Chief Philip Zacche may have best served himself.

But now the longtime cop could spend the first decade of his retirement in federal prison after he admitted to stealing $31,713 from an agency that serves the city’s neediest families.

Federal prosecutors said Friday that Zacche filled out phony time sheets to get paid for security work that he never performed for the Jersey City Housing Authority.

Despite the charge of "embezzling, stealing, obtaining by fraud, misapplying, and without authority knowingly converting money," Zacche earned much of his money the legal way.

As a member of the department’s brass, Zacche pulled a six-figure salary before overtime. He earned even more by working an off-duty part-time gig as a security officer for the Authority’s Marion Gardens housing development.

When he retired in June, city taxpayers had to cut Zacche a check for $512,620 to compensate him for 450 unused comp and vacation days.

The 61-year-old Manalapan resident is now set to collect a pension of at least $11,946 every month for the rest of his life. It is not clear how his criminal conviction will affect his pension. Public officials can lose their pensions if they are found guilty of certain crimes that involved their job.

The federal accusation says he embezzled the housing funds between 2010 and 2014, when he was captain, North District commander and deputy chief. He became chief in 2014.

A plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of New Jersey has Zacche forfeiting $24,700 and facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in April.

The city this week promoted Deputy Chief Michael Kelly to the chief’s position.

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