Feds charge 12th Jersey City police officer in off-duty security detail corruption probe

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A 12th Jersey City police officer has been charged in a federal corruption probe into the department’s previous off-duty detail jobs, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Gicella Sanchez, 36, of Jersey City, is charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to defraud a local government.

She is expected to appear today by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Cathy L. Waldor.

Private contractors and businesses sometimes needed to use the services of off-duty Jersey City police officers for certain projects, including work within the city that could obstruct the flow of traffic.

The off-duty assignments were made by a Jersey City Police Department-designated coordinator for the district in which the assignment was to be carried out.

Officers receiving these off-duty assignments were required to complete and provide to the coordinator a voucher that indicated, among other things, the hours worked on particular off-duty assignments.

From November 2014 through June 2016, Sanchez allegedly conspired with another Jersey City police officer who was authorized to assign off-duty work and sign vouchers.

That officer, with Sanchez’s knowledge and consent, submitted phony vouchers to Jersey City indicating that Sanchez had completed certain off-duty assignments that she never actually performed.

As a result, Sanchez was compensated well over $5,000 for off-duty work she never performed.

According to the criminal complaint, “Co-Conspirator 1” was the assistant pick coordinator in the West District.

A text exchange between Sanchez and CC1 from July 23rd, 2015 is outlined in the criminal complaint as one instance of how she allegedly abused the off-duty detail system.

“I don’t have anything tonight but I am actually getting out at 1 today so I don’t actually want to be there. Lol,” she allegedly wrote to CC1, who responded “Don’t worry I’ll take care of it.”

According to CC1, Sanchez was informed that a an off-duty voucher would be submitted on her behalf for work, even though she had no intention of actually performing the job.

Sanchez, who earned a salary of $106,124 last year according to state records, is the first Jersey City police officer to be charged or plead guilty since early 2018.

The years-long investigation ensnared former Police Chief Philip Zacche, who subsequently lost his pension after the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office took legal action, as HCV first reported.

Sanchez faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

Her charges come at a time when Jersey City officials were considering bringing back off-duty police details at construction sites after over a year without any details at all.

City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said this afternoon that Sanchez has been suspended without pay and was critical of the now defunct off-duty program.

“For decades there was a pattern of corruption in the off-duty jobs program within the Jersey City Police Department, and for that reason, Director Shea and the Mayor dismantled the program, went to court against the union, and ultimately prevailed,” she said in an email.

“We will now work to continue to revamp this program into something the city can be proud of. This officer is currently suspended without pay, and the city will continue to cooperate fully to hold any officers who participated accountable.”

 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.