For Immediate Release: January 31, 2022
Office of The Attorney General
– Andrew J. Bruck, Acting Attorney General
Office of Public Integrity and Accountability
– Thomas J. Eicher, Executive Director
TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of a suspended detective of the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office (CMCPO) on charges that he conducted an unauthorized investigation into a minor motor vehicle accident involving a relative.
The Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) obtained a state grand jury indictment today charging Detective Sgt. Robert P. Harkins Jr., 49, of Wildwood Crest, N.J. with the following offenses:
- Official Misconduct (2nd Degree)
- Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd Degree)
- Falsifying or Tampering with Records (4th Degree)
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the OPIA Corruption Bureau. Harkins was initially charged by complaint-summons on May 20, 2021 with third-degree tampering with public records or information and third-degree conspiracy to tamper with public records or information.
It is alleged that in December 2019 and January 2020, Harkins personally initiated and conducted an unauthorized investigation into a minor motor vehicle accident involving a relative in the parking lot of a store in Middle Township, specifically to identify the driver of the other vehicle, who left the scene without exchanging information. Harkins allegedly failed to record his official actions in CMCPO’s records management system, as required, and instead documented them with an outdated “general investigation report” to avoid review by his superiors. It is further alleged that Harkins—without approval, permission or lawful authority—issued a subpoena to the store where the crash occurred, used his CMCPO affiliation to send official requests for information to state agencies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and ultimately provided his investigative findings, including a 10-page report and a file of various documents, to another law enforcement agency, the Middle Township Police Department.
The Middle Township Police Department, which was actually responsible for the official investigation of the accident, advised CMCPO of the situation. Following an internal review by its Professional Standards Unit, CMCPO referred the matter to the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).
The indictment is posted online at: https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases22/Harkins-Indictment.pdf
Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis is prosecuting the case for the OPIA Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione. Acting Attorney General Bruck commended those attorneys and the detectives of the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau. He also thanked the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office and Middle Township Police Department for their invaluable assistance.
The second-degree official misconduct charge carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison—with a mandatory five-year period of parole ineligibility—and a fine of up to $150,000. The third-degree charge of tampering with public records carries a sentence of three to five years in prison, with a mandatory two-year period of parole ineligibility, and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
OPIA has a toll-free Tipline 1-844-OPIA-TIPS for the public to report corruption. The AG’s Office has an Anti-Corruption Reward Program that offers a reward of up to $25,000 for tips leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption. Information is posted at: http://nj.gov/oag/corruption/reward.html.
Defense Attorney: Andrew M. Smith, Esq., Hainesport, N.J.