ELIZABETH — An Elizabeth police officer, who is currently suspended without pay, was indicted Friday on 58 counts stemming from an investigation that revealed he was allegedly 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 Monday.
Rocco Malgieri, 43, of Brick Township is charged with second degree theft by extortion, second degree attempted extortion, second and third degree pattern of official misconduct, second and third degree official misconduct, third degree bribery, and third degree receipt of unlawful benefit by a public servant.
Malgieri, who joined the force 19 years ago, turned himself in to prosecutors on March 17 and immediately was suspended without pay by the Elizabeth Police Department, said Romankow. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Ann Rubin.
According to the investigation, beginning in February 2011 Malgieri allegedly would make unwarranted motor vehicle stops of Hispanic men, question them about their residency status and threaten to report them to immigration officials unless they gave him money, said Romankow. The stops occurred while he was on duty.
Currently there are twelve victims who have accused Malgieri of soliciting payments from them. The payments ranged from $30 – $250, according to the investigation, Romankow said.
Malgieri remains free on a $20,000 property bond.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Malgieri is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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