ELIZABETH – A city police officer has been charged with shaking down undocumented immigrants for money, saying he would not turn them into authorities in exchange for payment, Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow announced Thursday.
Rocco Malgieri, 43, of Brick Township, turned himself in to the prosecutor’s office Thursday morning with his attorney Donald DiGioia present. He was immediately suspended without pay by the Elizabeth Police Department, Romankow said.
Authorities allege that Malgieri, a 19-year police force veteran, began making unwarranted motor vehicle stops of Hispanic men in February. He allegedly questioned them about their residency status and threatened to report them to immigration officials unless they gave him money, Romankow said. The alleged stops occurred while he was on duty.
Seven victims have reported that Malgieri solicited payments ranging from $100 – $150 from them, according to Romankow.
Malgieri is charged with second degree theft by extortion, second degree attempted extortion, second degree pattern of official misconduct, third degree official misconduct, third degree bribery and third degree soliciting bribes. He was released on a $20,000 property bond and is scheduled for a first court appearance on March 30.
Authorities said that anyone with more information may call Sgt. Edward Koenig at 1-908-527-4914.
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