For Immediate Release: March 8, 2021
Office of Public Integrity and Accountability
– Thomas J. Eicher, Director
For Further Information:
TRENTON – Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler was charged today with ordering on-duty police officers under his command to perform police escorts for his private business – a funeral home – using police department vehicles.
Kugler, 59, of Saddle Brook, N.J., was charged today by complaint-summons with the following offenses:
- Conspiracy (2nd Degree)
- Official Misconduct (2nd Degree)
- Corruption of Public Resources (3rd Degree)
Deputy Attorney General Eric C. Cohen is prosecuting the case for the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). Chief Kugler was charged in an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the OPIA Corruption Bureau.
Kugler is the owner of Kugler Funeral Home in the Township of Saddle Brook. It is alleged that between January 2019 and August 2020, Kugler ordered subordinate police officers to perform police escorts for funerals at his funeral home using police vehicles, in furtherance of his own unlawful conduct. Use of police vehicles for escort services is prohibited by township ordinance, with the exception of escorts for the municipal government of Saddle Brook or nonprofit organizations. Police officers allegedly conducted escorts ordered by Kugler during their regular shifts, and they escorted funeral processions to cemeteries both within and outside of Saddle Brook. Kugler Funeral Home did not reimburse the Township of Saddle Brook for the escorts.
As of today, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has taken over supervision of day to day operations of the Saddle Brook Police Department.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The second-degree charge of official misconduct carries a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison without possibility of parole. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. Due to a recusal, First Assistant Attorney General Andrew Bruck is serving as Acting Attorney General.
Defense Attorney: Undetermined.