An Asbury Park police officer accused of helping gang members further their criminal activities is slated to go on trial with two of the alleged gang members. Ryan Ross | Kathleen Hopkins
Cops and robbers are supposed to be on opposite sides.
But for the past two weeks, an Asbury Park cop and two alleged robbers sat at the same criminal defense table in a Monmouth County courtroom as attorneys selected jurors to sit on their trial.
Why was Keith German, a 16-year veteran of the Asbury Park police force, at the same table with the alleged criminals he is supposed to protect us from?
Prosecutors allege he was sleeping with the enemy.
They say he tipped off leaders of street gangs to investigative techniques that police were using to try to foil their criminal activities. And, they allege he used the police department’s computer system to check for warrants on gang members, and, in one instance, he coached a gangster to lie on documents to get an impounded vehicle returned.
Who are these alleged gang members that prosecutors say German was in cahoots with?
One is James Fair, 29, of Asbury Park, who authorities say was one of two ringleaders of organized street crime that wreaked havoc on the streets of Asbury Park and surrounding areas in 2013 and 2014.
Another is Altyreek Leonard, 23, of Asbury Park, who authorities allege led a racketeering conspiracy to promote the facilitation of robbery, burglary, theft, shoplifting, firearms trafficking, murder, aggravated assault and drug distribution.
Prosecutors have charged German, 48, of Tinton Falls with hindering the apprehension of Fair and Leonard in those crimes. German also is charged in a 219-count indictment with three counts of official misconduct and one count each of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit stalking, stalking, computer theft, and unlawful access and disclosure of computer information. The 2014 indictment was the result of an investigation known as “Operation Dead End.’’
Fair –who is awaiting trial in an unrelated murder of a schoolteacher – was originally charged with 158 crimes in the “Dead End’’ indictment, but prosecutors decided to dismiss nine of the numerous drug charges against him for efficiency’s sake. His remaining charges include racketeering, promoting organized street crime, attempted murder, robbery, burglary, theft, shoplifting, and numerous other drug and weapons offenses.
The indictment charged 42 individuals in addition to German and Fair. They include Leonard. They also include Haneef Walker, 24, of Asbury Park, who is facing 53 charges that include racketeering, attempted murder, robbery, shoplifting and weapons and drug offenses.
Most of the people named in the indictment have already resolved their cases. Leonard is expected to stand trial later this year with two of the remaining defendants.
For the past two weeks, attorneys have been selecting jurors for the trial of the other three remaining defendants – German, Fair and Walker. Jury selection was completed on Thursday.
Now, the case is on the docket Tuesday, when the attorneys will deliver their opening arguments to the jury, and prosecutors will begin calling witnesses to testify.
The trial is expected to last four months and include the presentation of numerous recordings of wiretapped telephone conversations of the defendants.
The opening arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m. before Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley at the Monmouth County Courthouse in Freehold.