5 HCPO detectives ‘are the subject of a pending criminal investigation,’ IA probe still ongoing

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Five Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office detectives “are the subject of a pending criminal investigation,” with an Internal Affairs probe still ongoing, according to a letter from their office.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Please be advised that Detective Vincent Kearns, Detective Anthony Espaillat, Detective Maegan Larsen, Detective Risheem Whitten, and Detective Daniel Bellini, law enforcement officers, who are potential witnesses in this case, are the subject of a pending criminal investigation that ‘bears upon truthfulness, bias or integrity,’” a May 26th letter from HCPO Assistant Prosecutor Erica Bertuzzi wrote in a letter to defense attorney Michael Rubas.

“Please note that the Internal Affairs investigation is still pending and therefore, there has not been any sustained finding of misconduct as of this date.”

The letter, which was first published by Politico, was sent to Rubas as part of a state law, citing the case Brady vs. Maryland and Giglio vs. United States.

Rubas did not return an email seeking comment, but HCPO spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said the letter was standard procedure, as well as that Rubas’ client in the matter – who she declined to name – faces a potential 16-year sentence after pleading guilty to drug charges.

“This letter is pro forma in circumstances such as this. However, that notwithstanding, we cannot comment on a pending criminal investigation and like all investigations, everyone is entitled the presumption of innocence,” she said.

“As you are aware, not everyone who is subject to an investigation will be charged with a criminal offense.”

On April 6th, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez announced that the Public Integrity Unit of their Internal Affairs section was investigating an undisclosed amount of missing money at their office, though it is not clear if that is what the five detectives named in Bertuzzi’s letter are being investigated for.

Additionally, an HCV review of internal affairs records throughout Hudson County for 2020 noted that the HCPO did not issue any major discipline of 10 days or more.