Three Jersey City police officers have pleaded guilty to getting paid for off-duty jobs they didn’t perform, bringing the total number of officers ensnared in the federal probe up to five in the past 10 months.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
James Cardinali, 38, of Jersey City, Victor Sanchez, 37, of Hasbrouck Heights, and Christopher Ortega, 29, of Brick, all pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark federal court to separate charge of conspiracy to commit fraud, Acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick announced.
Cardinali’s duties included serving as the “pick coordinator” for Jersey City’s South District, responsible for assigning police officers to off-duty details, according to court documents.
On multiple occasions, Cardinali asked representatives of certain vendors who were performing work in the South District to sign Jersey City off-duty vouchers indicating that a police officer had completed an off-duty assignment for that vendor, even though no officer had in fact completed any assignment.
Cardinali then falsely represented on these vouchers that a particular police officer had completed an off-duty assignment, authorities said.
These officers were paid for work they did not perform. Cardinali personally obtained from the officers some of the money that they were paid as a result of the fraudulent conduct, officials said.
Sanchez and Ortega defrauded Jersey City by consenting to the submission of false and fraudulent off-duty vouchers to Jersey City indicating that they had completed certain off-duty assignments that they had not, in fact, completed.
Both were paid by the city for off-duty assignments that they did not actually complete.
All three officers face a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
Pursuant to the plea agreement, Cardinali is required to forfeit the $39,587; Sanchez is required to forfeit $21,583; and Ortega is required to forfeit $18,336.
Sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for November 6, 2017.
In September 2016, Juan Romaniello, the Jersey City Police Department’s former “pick coordinator” for the North District pleaded guilty to accepting $230,000 in corrupt payments.
Romaniello recently passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Then last month, Anthony Iannicco, another former Jersey City cop, admitted to stealing roughly $55,000 as the result of an illegal off-duty job scheme.