Over 2 years, $1M in off-duty work for 12 Jersey City cops
The 12 officers at the center of a probe of Jersey City police's off-duty jobs program have been identified. (Jersey Journal file photo)
By Terrence T. McDonald | The Jersey Journal
on January 10, 2017 at 2:54 PM, updated January 10, 2017 at 4:47 PM
JERSEY CITY -- The 12 Jersey City police officers who have been put on restricted duty related to a federal probe of the police department's off-duty jobs program collected about $1 million total from off-duty work over the last two years, payroll records show.
Two of the officers earned more than their total salaries from off-duty work in 2015. James Cardinale made $110,370 from off-duty work in 2015. Cardinale makes a $106,313 salary. Jonathan Hernandez made $89,120 from off-duty work last year. Hernandez's salary is $76,262.
The dozen cops collected a total of $980,677.50 from off-duty jobs in 2015 and in 2016 through Nov. 16, the last date for which The Jersey Journal has records. The off-duty program earned all participating officers a total of $31.4 million in that time period, payroll records show.
The city confirmed this morning that the officers -- a 12th was added to the list since The Jersey Journal's original report -- have been stripped of their guns and put on non-enforcement duties. The FBI is reportedly investigating whether police officers abused the program and collected money from private companies directly instead of going through the city.
The FBI has declined to comment.
According to a source with knowledge of the investigation, the 12 officers are Ehab Abdelaziz; Juan Berrios; Cardinale; Andrea Fahrenholz; Hernandez; David Leon; Michael O'Leary; Christopher Ortega; Gicella Sanchez; Melissa Sanchez; Victor Sanchez; and Alex Vilas. Ortega is a detective, the rest are police officers.
These 12 officers have been identified as those who have been reassigned by the city, but it's unclear whether these officers are at the center of the FBI probe.
Carmine Disbrow, president of the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association, issued a statement blasting the leak of the officers' names.
"Offering these names up does a disservice to the JCPD, and to the integrity of the investigation," Disbrow said. "This only serves to further someone's personal agenda."
Corruption arrests of Jersey City cops expected, sources say
The probe is focusing on off-duty, private security work.
A law-enforcement source described the 12 officers as "little fish." Five were hired on the same day in 2004, one in 2006, three in 2007, one in 2009 and two in 2012. Sources say retired officers are being investigated as well.
Jersey City police officers are permitted to work off-duty providing security for private companies, which are required by city law to go through the city when seeking officers. The city charges an administrative fee of $12 an hour on top of what the company pays the officer. That fee was expected to total nearly $300,000 for the city last year.
Companies pay the officers between $35 and $100 an hour, depending on the type of work and whether it's on a Sunday or holiday.
This morning, Disbrow asked the public not to rush to judgment.
"Until the facts of this case become more apparent, we ask the public not to rush to judgement, and to keep in mind the tremendous efforts of the JCPD to keep our city safe," Disbrow said. "While we keep an eye on this ongoing investigation, the efforts of our members remain on protecting and serving our community."
========= 12 Jersey City cops placed on restricted duty amid federal probe
The FBI is reportedly investigating the Jersey City Police Department's off-duty private security program. Michael Dempsey | The Jersey Journal (Jersey Journal file photo)
By Terrence T. McDonald | The Jersey Journal
on January 10, 2017 at 10:27 AM, updated January 10, 2017 at 3:30 PM
In the midst of a federal probe of off-duty work performed by Jersey City police officers, the city has stripped 12 cops of their guns and placed them on non-enforcement duty.
The city confirmed the move this morning in a statement from city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill. Morrill did not reveal the names of the 12 officers.
The news comes as the police department braces for arrests that sources with knowledge of the federal probe say are expected this month. The officers are being investigated possibly for taking improper payments in relation to the off-duty work program, according to law-enforcement sources.
"For some time, we have been working with the FBI on an investigation into allegations of misconduct by a number of members of the Jersey City Police Department regarding the off-duty program," Morrill's statement reads. "At this point in the investigation, we have made the decision to take an administrative action to remove the firearms of 11 active members and place them on non-enforcement duties."
A 12th officer was added to the list after Morrill issued that statement. The dozen cops put on modified duty this week have not been charged with a crime.
Carmine Disbrow, president of the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association, asked the public not to rush to judgment.
"Until the facts of this case become more apparent, we ask the public not to rush to judgement, and to keep in mind the tremendous efforts of the JCPD to keep our city safe," Disbrow said in a statement. "While we keep an eye on this ongoing investigation, the efforts of our members remain on protecting and serving our community."
After federal probe, Jersey City revamping off-duty job program for cops
This is the second time Mayor Steve Fulop's administration has announced it will change how the program for assigning off-duty work to officers operates.
Jersey City police officers are permitted to work off-duty providing security for private companies, which are supposed to go through the city when seeking officers. The city charges an administrative fee of $12 an hour in addition to what the company pays the officer. That fee was expected to total nearly $300,000 for the city last year.
One now-former police officer, Juan Romaniello, has already pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and accept corrupt payments and one count of filing a false tax return. Federal prosecutors say Romaniello accepted nearly $230,000 in direct payments for off-duty work.
Federal prosecutors say Romaniello agreed with private companies to cut Jersey City out of the process of hiring off-duty officers; permitted companies to operate without cops at sites where police presence was required; and provided security himself without notifying the city.
Christopher Adams, Romaniello's attorney, said he had no comment on today's city action. Adams said he doesn't know when Romaniello will be sentenced.
"Mr. Romaniello has accepted responsibility for his actions and agreed to plead guilty and face punishment," he said.
When Romaniello's guilty plea was announced in September, federal prosecutors said he orchestrated his conspiracy with "other police officers." At the time, Matthew Reilly, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's Office, declined to say whether his office is considering charges against other cops.
Reilly had no comment on today's city action.