EDISON, NJ – Four Greek-American police officers are among five from New Jersey who were “charged with official misconduct and theft, prosecutors announced,” on June 1, NBC 4 New York reported, adding that “an investigation revealed that between Nov. 14, 2016 and May 1, 2018 the police officers of the Edison Police Department allegedly were being paid for extra-duty jobs, which they were not present for. The extra-duty, or ‘side jobs,’ are in addition to the regular hours that a member of the police department is assigned to work.”
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey announced that “Sergeant Ioannis (John) Mpletsakis, 38, Patrolman Paul Pappas, 43, Patrolman James Panagoulakos, 32, all of Edison Township, Patrolman Gregory Makras, 33, of Cranford, and Sergeant Brian Rossmeyer, 41, of Bedminister were each charged with two counts of official misconduct in the second degree and one count of theft by unlawful taking in the third degree,” NBC 4 New York reported.
The police officers who were charged have years of experience with the Edison Police Department, ranging from 16 years for Mpletsakis, 14 years for Pappas, 11 years for Rossmeyer, 7 years for Makras, and just 4 years for Panagoulakos.
According to the statement by the Middesex Country Prosecutor’s Office, “The officers who volunteer to take these extra assignments have full police responsibilities while on the extra-duty assignments, prosecutors say, adding that these assignments include directing traffic for utility companies as well as providing security services for local businesses and residential communities.”
The statement continued that “in Edison, there is no centralized system of assignment for these extra-duty jobs. Instead, several different individuals within the department have wide discretion as to who gets the assignments. The payment for these extra-duty jobs can exceed $100,000 in a single year for an officer. This money is in addition to the officer's regular base pay and overtime. Payment for these side jobs is billed through Edison Township payroll for police services. The fee charged includes an administrative fee and an additional fee for a police vehicle when required.”
"Any police officer who knowingly got paid for an off duty-job they did not do, is guilty of malfeasance. Edison township officials, however, are responsible for allowing a system of fiscal irresponsibility to exist,” Andrew Carey said in a statement, reported by NBC 4 New York.
The officers are set to appear in court on June 21.
The Prosecutor’s Office statement also noted that “the investigation is active and is continuing with the possibility of additional arrests. Anyone with information is asked to call Captain Kenneth Schreck of the Edison Police Department at 732-248-7453, or Detective Nicholas Chiorello of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-745-5217.”
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against these individuals are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.