FREEHOLD — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that a former member of the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) has been sentenced to prison time without the possibility of parole, after a jury found him guilty of misusing an NJSP identification card, which he should not have had in his possession, in order to get out of a series of police traffic stops in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
Ex-NJSP Sgt. Marc Dennis, 51, of Waretown, was sentenced on charges of official misconduct and a pattern of official misconduct. State Superior Court Judge Lourdes Lucas, presiding in Monmouth County, ordered Dennis to serve five years in state prison, during which he will be ineligible for parole.
When Dennis was suspended by the State Police in September 2016, he was ordered to surrender his NJSP identifications and was relieved of his law enforcement powers. But an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and the NJSP Office of Professional Standards revealed that he improperly retained a State Police identification he had been issued, and was presenting it to officers who pulled him over on at least nine occasions, all while he was suspended from duty.
“This defendant used a State Police ID he improperly retained after a suspension to benefit himself by violating the public’s trust,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “I am deeply grateful for the commitment, sacrifice and upstanding character that the vast majority of our state’s law enforcement officers exhibit on and off the job. We will not tolerate abusive behavior by one bad actor reflecting poorly on the numerous officers abiding by the law, upholding it and making New Jersey safer.”
“This ousted sergeant improperly and deceitfully posed as an active-duty member of the State Police to law enforcement during traffic stops to get favorable treatment,” said OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher. “The court’s decision in this case was a just outcome and illustrates that no one is above the law.”
Dennis’ initial suspension and charges dated to September 2016, stemming from his job performance. He was accused of failing to follow State Police procedures while claiming otherwise in official records and certifications.
When he was suspended, Dennis was told to hand over his NJSP identifications. OPIA investigators found he surrendered most of them, but not all: he held onto a NJSP ID that he had obtained after reporting in January 2016 that he had lost his wallet. The investigation found that the defendant was making use of that ID, in spite of his suspension and pending criminal case, by presenting it to police officers who pulled him over in Marlboro, Toms River, Berkeley Township, Lakehurst and elsewhere. The defendant was stopped nine times from the date of his suspension, September 19, 2016, through April 2018, and during those stops he had shown that ID and presented himself as an active member of the NJSP.
Following his trial, on May 10, 2022, a jury convicted Dennis of one count each of second-degree official misconduct, second-degree pattern of official misconduct, and third-degree theft by unlawful taking in connection with his misuse of his ID to avoid motor vehicle citations.
After hearing extensive arguments from both sides at the Monmouth County Courthouse in Freehold on March 15, 2023, Judge Lucas sentenced the defendant on both the official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct counts, with the sentences to run concurrently, and merged the theft count. The court also ordered that the defendant forfeit his pension and job, and banned him from public employment for life.
The sentencing was handled by Deputy Attorney General Sherrod Smith and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione, under the supervision of OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher.
Eric Todd Kanefsky, Gregory Mullens and Gianna Bove, of Calcagni & Kanefsky, Newark.