Trenton, NJ, Mayor Responds to Overtime Scandal Involving 5 Police Officers
The Trenton mayor's office has confirmed five police officers are under investigation relating to a reported overtime scandal but the details and depth of the case remain disputed.
Three city police captains and one lieutenant are expected to resign before May 1 to avoid prosecution for inflating the number of hours they worked, according to multiple reports from the Trentonian. The local tabloid claims it knows the names of the officers and that they tried to take tens of thousands of dollars in unearned pay.
But Mayor Reed Gusciora's office disputes the report, saying the Trentonian published "incorrect information." The administration said in a statement that an investigation into whether five police officers improperly adjusted their vacation and sick time is underway. The office added that "any speculation by local media outlets should be disregarded" until the investigation is over.
A request for comment and information to the mayor's office was referred to the police department, which is headed by Director Steve Wilson. Trenton police spokesman Det. Nathan Bolognini declined to comment but said more information may be released in the "near future."
Would corrupt cops keep their pensions?
In its reports, the Trentonian stated that four officers breached a police department computer system to adjust their hours worked. Citing an unnamed administration official, the tabloid reported that a deal worked out with the administration would allow the cops to retire with full pensions and medical benefits.
Gusciora's office confirmed that the matter is being handled internally. But the city first referred the matter for possible criminal charges to the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office and the state Attorney General's Office, which Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri confirmed in a previous statement.
"After reviewing this matter we felt the proofs were more suited to an administrative proceeding rather than a criminal proceeding," Onofri said.
The mayor's office added that whether the officers keep their pensions upon resigning is not up to the city. Instead, the state Division of Pensions & Benefits makes that determination.
"Pensions does do a background check and seeks clearance from the appointing authority before making the decision to award a pension," the office said. "Please be advised that there are no easy choices here, but we do not take this lightly nor is anyone getting away without repercussions."