NJ police performed unlawful arrests to steal money, feds say


The badge of an energetic Paterson Police Department officer is seen as police hats are organized in a line exterior of the general public security advanced constructing throughout a protest by laid-off officers from the Paterson Police Department in Paterson, N.J. on Monday, April 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


A squad of officers performed unlawful searches and arrests in New Jersey as a pretext to rob residents out of money, federal prosecutors say.

Now, a sergeant is dealing with many years in jail.

On May 26, a federal jury convicted Michael Cheff on one rely of conspiracy to deprive individuals of civil rights and one rely of falsification of a police report, in accordance with a information launch from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.

The 51 year-old was a sergeant with the Paterson Police Department in Paterson, New Jersey, a metropolis about 20 miles northwest of New York City on the time of the case, courtroom paperwork present.

Cheff’s protection legal professional didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark from McClatchy News.

Cheff supervised a squad of officers that labored collectively on a shift that started at 4:30 a.m. and ended at 3:45 p.m., courtroom paperwork present.

Prosecutors mentioned between 2016 and 2018, Cheff and his officers performed unlawful stops and searches of people of their automobiles, on the streets or of their houses and stole cash from them.

As a sergeant, certainly one of Cheff’s tasks was to approve officers’ stories and different paperwork associated to “arrests and seizures of money, narcotics, and firearms, among other things,” in accordance with the indictment.

Prosecutors mentioned when making unlawful stops, the officers would steal money from the automobile’s occupants, cut up it amongst themselves and go a minimize of the stolen cash to their sergeant, Cheff.

Officers used the identical ways whereas looking people in buildings or on the streets, courtroom paperwork present.

Prosecutors mentioned Cheff was capable of conceal the scheme by approving false stories submitted by officers “that omitted, or lied about, their illegal activities.”

In one occasion, in November 2017, officers stopped and arrested a resident exterior his house — stealing a number of hundred {dollars} within the course of, prosecutors mentioned.

Then, Cheff and different legislation enforcement personnel lied to acquire their consent to go looking their residence, courtroom paperwork present. During that search, prosecutors mentioned Cheff stole about $2,000 from a secure in a bed room and put most of it into his pocket.

The individual whose residence was searched mentioned he had a secure with about $2,700 inside, courtroom paperwork present. After officers completed the search, he mentioned it was utterly empty.

Cheff gave roughly $319 to one of many officers to submit as proof for an incident report, prosecutors mentioned. The report, which Cheff authorized, acknowledged that officers discovered $319 “on the top of a shelf” and didn’t point out they discovered the cash in a secure.

Court paperwork present Cheff then later distributed a few of the stolen cash to a number of officers within the rest room of the police division.

The officers concerned on this case pleaded responsible and await sentencing, in accordance with the discharge.

Prosecutors mentioned Cheff faces as much as 20 years in jail and a nice of $250,000 on every rely. A sentencing date is pending.

Cassandre Coyer is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter protecting the southeast whereas primarily based in Washington D.C. She’s an alumna of Emerson College in Boston and joined McClatchy in 2022. Previously, she’s written for The Christian Science Monitor, RVA Mag, The Untitled Magazine, and extra.

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