Jersey City Police Officer Gicella Sanchez is the 12th member of the department to plead guilty to off-duty detail fraud, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Gicella Sanchez, 36, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge John M. Vazquez to an information charging her with one count of conspiracy to defraud a local government receiving federal funds.
Jersey City police who received off-duty assignments with contractors 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 conspired with another Jersey City police officer – only identified as “CC-1” in the criminal complaint – 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.
In other instances, Sanchez showed up to off-duty job sites, but left before her shift ended. As a result, Sanchez accepted thousands of dollars for off-duty work that she never performed.
“On October 29, 2015, between 7:15 p.m. and 7:16 p.m., Sanchez texted Individual 1: “Yeah, I didn’t get a job today … [s]o I made [CC-1] give me a no-show one,” the criminal complaint says.
Other text messages between February and December of 2016 indicate that Sanchez was paid for at least three separate, four-hour, off-duty details that she did not actually work, federal prosecutors revealed.
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.
As part of her plea agreement, Sanchez must forfeit $9,095 in criminal proceeds she received from her role in the scheme and pay restitution of $2,490. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2021.
Additionally, Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
Sanchez was initially charged via complaint back in July.
The Jersey City Police Department is cooperating with the investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Today’s guilty plea reaffirms that Mayor Fulop and Director Shea made the right decision in ending the police off duty job program several years ago,” said city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.
“This was a program that was filled with corruption for decades prior, and it didn’t reflect the values of our city. It is unfortunate that these officers placed greed above their trust as police officers, but we as an administration have zero tolerance for corruption.”
While she did not comment on Sanchez’s employment status, which was suspended without pay back in July, sources told HCV that the officer has since been terminated following her guilty plea.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.