Skip to comments.N. Jersey Officers Charged With Protecting Targets Of Drug Probe
Posted on 07/11/2006 9:19:05 AM PDT by Puppage
NEWARK, N.J. -- Six police officers from northern New Jersey were indicted Tuesday, accused of protecting targets of a drug ring by tipping them off about imminent raids in return for some of the drugs.
What began as a "social relationship" between the officers and their young contemporaries, who would use small amount of drugs together, soon spiraled out of control, authorities said.
"Several of the officers were engaging in some partying," said Passaic County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jay McCann. "It wasn't really a drug distribution for profit. It was more of a social relationship between the officers and the targets."
"The targets lived a high-profile lifestyle: They drove luxury vehicles and they had boats, and they partied with the officers," McCann said. "Then it cascaded from there."
The main drugs involved were the powerful painkiller OxyContin and the sleeping pill Ambien.
Eventually, the officers realized their friends were being investigated for drugs and decided to help them by tipping them off about impending raids or investigations, McCann said.
The officers were arrested within the past 18 months, but the case was made public on Tuesday with the indictments. Each officer has been suspended and faces arraignment in four to six weeks on charges including conspiracy to commit official misconduct; conspiracy to possess narcotics; official misconduct; witness tampering and hindering apprehension.
Charged were: Pompton Lakes officers Dennis DePrima, 30, Robert J. Palianto, 29, and Michael Megna, 34; West Milford Officer Paul Kleiber, 26; West Paterson Officer Richard Beagin, 26; and Passaic County Sheriff's Officer Gerry Ward, 46, whose current address is in Gastonia, N.C. It could not immediately be determined if the officers have hired lawyers.
The indictment also names seven others who were targeted in the drug probe, which included dealing in cocaine, OxyContin and anabolic steroids.
McCann said the case came to light in August 2004 when it became apparent to authorities that the targets of an ongoing drug investigation by a county's task force had been tipped off about search and arrest warrants that were about to be executed.
"There were communications intercepted on the wiretaps among the targets of the narcotics investigation that made it clear that it had been compromised," he said. "There was an intercept in which one person was making arrangements to get narcotics out of his house."
Perhaps the ex-officers will be able to continue their social relationships with their little friends if they nicely ask the warden if they can have adjoining cells.
This can't happen in New Jersey!
3 of the officers are from my town. Sadly, this type of corruption happens too often in NJ.
This sounds like Clinton and Lassiter. Was there oral sex and 14 year old girls involved?
New Jersey: "What a H#$% of a Place to Live."
My ancestors moved from there a LONG time ago...just after the American Revolution.
The only backyard BBQ I've ever been invited to where there was open drug use was given by a police officer in NJ.
These guys are always briefly "dating" women they've arrested, having affairs and ruining their own and others' marriages, brazenly flouting the traffic laws, drunk driving laws and drug laws, etc.
There was a time in America when a law enforcement officer prided himself on being a churchgoing family man of impeccable character - not a clubhopping binge drinker with a teenage girlfriend on the side.
Hey Tony, Officer Smith is looking thirsty.
I guess that would be pompton lakes.