Craig McCarthy, Posted June 02, 2018 at 08:45 AM | Updated June 02, 2018 at 08:46 Am
By Craig McCarthy | NJ Advance Media
When news came out Friday of five more officers charged with official misconduct over alleged no-show jobs, one of the first commenters chimed in with a familiar retort: “ah yes… Edison again!”
The sentiment highlights what appears to be the police department’s continuous uphill battle to rebuild its public perception.
Following the conviction of former Officer Michael Dotro last year, leadership was lauded for its removal of problem cops and for the foundation that was laid for what was to be the new Edison Police force by putting years of scandal in the rearview mirror.
The department, made up of 170 officers who patrol the state’s fifth largest municipality, has still managed to make a few notable headlines this year. Here’s a look at those stories and others that created the department’s public perception over the last two years.
Accusations of no-show jobs
The most recent scandal to come out in the department revolves around the police side-jobs that are dolled out internally.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey blasted the department’s system to assign this off-duty work, which is separate from overtime shifts, calling it “an inadequate system of accounting” that “has directly resulted in nepotism and corruption.”
Five officers — Sgt. Ioannis “John” Mpletsakis, 38, Officer Paul Pappas, 43, Officer James Panagoulakos, 32, all of Edison Township, Officer Gregory Makras, 33, of Cranford, and Sgt. Brian Rossmeyer, 41, of Bedminster — were each charged with theft and two counts of official misconduct.
Chief Thomas Bryan would not comment specifically on the arrests but said in a statement, “Once again, this demonstrates that the Edison Police Department took appropriate action” by alerting the prosecutor’s office.
The officers pulled in more than $840,000 from the side jobs without showing up, authorities said. More charges are possible.
Illegal steroid use probe
The side jobs weren’t the only recent issue under investigation in the department.
Last week, NJ Advance Media reported on sources that at least seven officers had been placed on desk duty after allegations of illegal steroid use.
The exact number of officers wrapped up in the internal probe was unknown, but authorities are believed to have a ledger that names officers and alleged transactions in the department, as well as statements from one of the officer’s former girlfriend.
The arrest of Paul Pappas — the spark of two investigations
This isn’t the first time some of these officers have had run-ins with the law
Pappas was named six years ago in NJ Advance Media’s investigation into the shocking record of police misconduct on the force. The investigation revealed multiple excessive force lawsuits and domestic disputes involving Pappas.
Of the five officers charged with theft and official misconduct Friday, two cops had separate encounters with police involving nudity.
Mpletsakis was originally fired from the police force a decade ago after he ran from the scene of a car crash while off-duty. Mpletsakis had no clothes on at the time.
A judge reinstated him in 2007.
Rossmeyer was arrested, along with officer David Salardino, in a hotel in Ocean City, Maryland, after reports came in of a naked man posing in front of a window, “flexing” to attract attention.
All three were recently promoted.
The lingerie cop back in the news
Edison cop allegedly gets in bar fight at Jersey shore, resigns
At the beginning of last year, two former Edison cops were also sentenced on plea deals that spared them probation over a plot with Dotro to get payback on a law enforcement officer.
The officers, Brian Favretto, 41, of Brick, and William H. Gesell, 48, of Edison, were ordered to pay $325 in fines. Officer Victor E. Aravena, 45, was not sentenced then but agreed to a plea deal with the others in 2016 as well.
“The initial charges are quite serious,” Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Joseph Paone said at the time. “It shows a culture of corruption that should not be tolerated.”
However, the judge said, “he had to sentence in accordance with the plea.”
In that case, Dotro pleaded guilty to conspiracy and admitted he planned to retaliate against the North Brunswick officer, who ticketed one of his relatives.
Craig McCarthy, Posted June 02, 2018, NJ.com, “Alleged no-show job scam another black eye for Edison police”, https://www.nj.com/middlesex/index.ssf/2018/06/alleged_no-show_job_scam_another_black_eye_for_edi.html