Programs

Fighting Corruption

Fighting Corruption

Fighting Corruption

Faith in government officials, government institutions, and our elections is critical to our democratic society. Dedicated investigators and attorneys in the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) root out wrongdoing by public officials and those who would interfere with fair elections.

Holding Public Officials Accountable

Clark Mayor charged with official misconduct and submitting fraudulent paperwork. The Mayor of Clark Township was charged with official misconduct and submitting false and fraudulent paperwork to nearly two dozen municipalities, in order to facilitate his landscaping company’s improper removal of hundreds of underground storage tanks. The charges followed an investigation by OPIA that determined the Mayor, while acting in his official capacity, allegedly operated a tank-removal business out of his Township office utilizing municipal resources, by storing and maintaining the records for the business at the Mayor’s office, using Township devices including computers and fax machines, and directing Township employees to perform duties while working for the Township, solely for the purpose of running his private business.

Clark Police Department officials recommended for termination following investigation. In November, Attorney General Platkin released a 43-page report recommending that two Clark Police Department (CPD) officials be fired, including the chief, following an investigation into allegations of misconduct by leaders of Clark Township’s municipal government and the Police Department. The investigation delivered on a promise made by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office (UCPO) and the Attorney General’s Office when they first exercised supersession and took control of the Clark Police Department in July 2020. The series of events leading to the supersession began in May 2020, when UCPO received an anonymous letter alleging that a CPD officer was being paid for a no-show job and that the police chief was covering it up. Wildwood officials indicted for unlawful participation in state health benefits program fraud. In July, a state grand jury again indicted Wildwood’s mayor, a former mayor, and a city commissioner in connection with their allegedly fraudulent participation in the State Health Benefits Program, reinstating charges that had been dismissed without prejudice in June. The 12-count indictment included charges of official misconduct, theft by unlawful taking, tampering with public records and falsifying or tampering with records. Manville Police Department Chief indicted for official misconduct and sexual assault. In June, a state grand jury voted to file criminal charges against the suspended Manville police chief, who allegedly engaged in sexually inappropriate, criminal acts targeting multiple women against their will for years. The defendant was charged with two counts of sexual assault, four counts of official misconduct, one count of a pattern of official misconduct, and one count of criminal sexual contact. The indictment includes a new count covering suspected misconduct by the defendant following his suspension, after the investigation found that the defendant deliberately held onto a Manville police badge he was required to turn in after he was suspended from the force. The investigation revealed the suspended chief displayed the badge he wrongfully retained when he was pulled over by a local police officer on January 30, 2023, misrepresenting himself as an active-duty member of the police department.

Wildwood officials indicted for unlawful participation in state health benefits program fraud. In July, a state grand jury again indicted Wildwood’s mayor, a former mayor, and a city commissioner in connection with their allegedly fraudulent participation in the State Health Benefits Program, reinstating charges that had been dismissed without prejudice in June. The 12-count indictment included charges of official misconduct, theft by unlawful taking, tampering with public records and falsifying or tampering with records.

Fighting Corruption

Manville Police Department Chief indicted for official misconduct and sexual assault. In June, a state grand jury voted to file criminal charges against the suspended Manville police chief, who allegedly engaged in sexually inappropriate, criminal acts targeting multiple women against their will for years. The defendant was charged with two counts of sexual assault, four counts of official misconduct, one count of a pattern of official misconduct, and one count of criminal sexual contact. The indictment includes a new count covering suspected misconduct by the defendant following his suspension, after the investigation found that the defendant deliberately held onto a Manville police badge he was required to turn in after he was suspended from the force. The investigation revealed the suspended chief displayed the badge he wrongfully retained when he was pulled over by a local police officer on January 30, 2023, misrepresenting himself as an active-duty member of the police department.

Former family services worker charged with criminal sexual contact. A former case worker for the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) pleaded guilty after he made unwanted sexual advances toward women and tried intimidating women under investigation or supervision of DCF into engaging in unwanted sexual conduct with him. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree pattern of official misconduct.

Fighting Corruption

Prosecutor’s Office Lieutenant charged with tampering with drug evidence and money laundering. A Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office lieutenant was charged with official misconduct, tampering with evidence, and drug and financial crime offenses after an OPIA investigation revealed he checked drug evidence out of an evidence vault without authorized purpose and returned the packages in conditions substantially different from when they were signed out. The investigation also found the lieutenant had two razor blades with cocaine residue in his office and had made cash deposits in a manner designed to avoid bank-reporting requirements.

Safeguarding the Integrity of Elections

Each year, Attorney General Platkin and the Department take steps to ensure fair and smooth-running elections in New Jersey to protect the right to vote, and to assist voters, election officials, and law enforcement in resolving voting-related legal matters. The Office of the Attorney General and DCR continued their Voter Protection Initiative during the 2023 primary and general elections. The Initiative focuses on identifying and addressing any voting rights or civil rights violations, including under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act and LAD, that may arise during early voting and on Election Day. As in prior elections, the Attorney General’s Voter Protection Initiative worked with community stakeholders and partners to identify and address voting access issues.

Paterson voter charged with fraud and records tampering. A Paterson voter was charged after the alleged falsification of a vote-by-mail ballot, subsequent attempts to mislead investigators about that crime, and attempts to mislead investigators about how certain mail-in ballots were cast in the May 2020 Paterson municipal election. The voter was charged with tampering with public records, fraud in casting a mail-in vote, and other offenses, including providing false information to a detective with OPIA.

Charges against a former mayoral candidate after fraudulent voter registrations are brought to the U.S. Post Office in Elizabeth. A former candidate for mayor of the City of Plainfield was criminally charged for allegedly directing a group of associates to complete hundreds of false voter registration applications and then mailing them to Union County election officials. He was charged with election fraud and other crimes after allegedly bringing a trash bag stuffed with nearly 1,000 bogus voter registration applications to the post office to mail them to the Union County Commissioner of Registration. It is alleged that he directed associates and campaign volunteers who gathered at his home to complete blank voter registration applications based off one or more forms with voter information on them, which he provided to the group. The investigation revealed that the defendant subsequently arrived at the U.S. Post Office on North Broad Street in Elizabeth on May 18, 2021, carrying a large white garbage bag containing 954 voter registration applications, purportedly from Plainfield voters. But the investigation found many of the applications had the same handwriting on them. The candidate’s political campaign was ultimately unsuccessful.

Paterson City Council President charged with conspiracy and alleged witness tampering. Attorney General Platkin announced that the Paterson City Council President was brought up on charges in connection with an election-fraud case, after investigators determined the defendant personally collected ballots and oversaw the fraudulent mailing of ballots, while members of his campaign stole ballots from residential mailboxes and discarded several that did not cast a vote for their candidate. It is also alleged that defendants tampered with witnesses to avoid prosecution. The defendant who was first indicted on election fraud charges in 2021, is facing additional charges along with several alleged co-conspirators. The charges are the result of an investigation by OPIA.

Investigation of 2022 General Election in Monmouth County. Attorney General Platkin and DCR retained former Attorney General and federal prosecutor Peter C. Harvey to investigate the administration of the November 2022 General Election in Monmouth County, and to provide recommendations to improve the State’s elections procedures for future elections. The investigation followed news reports alleging incidents of voting machine irregularities in the 2022 general election in Monmouth County. Based on the investigation, the firm proposed recommendations for reform for future elections in the state.

Campaign manager charged in connection with false voter certifications. The campaign manager for a would-be candidate in the 2021 gubernatorial race was charged with election fraud after allegedly filing nearly 2,000 bogus petitions in an attempt to get a candidate on the ballot for the Democratic primary. The investigation found the campaign manager emailed the Secretary of State’s Division of Elections roughly 1,948 fraudulent voter certifications in support of a petition for Governor of the State of New Jersey and in an attempt to nominate a candidate for the primary.