NEW BRUNSWICK — A Middlesex County grand jury indicted a former New Brunswick police sergeant today on charges of mishandling 81 internal affairs investigations during a five-year period, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced.
Richard Rowe, 44, was charged with official misconduct, tampering with public records or information, obstructing the administration of law, and committing a pattern of official misconduct by repeatedly closing internal affairs cases without properly investigating the complaints.
Rowe was charged on Oct. 11, 2011, following a lengthy criminal investigation by the New Brunswick Police Department.
The grand jury, sitting in New Brunswick, charged that Rowe knowingly made false entries in New Brunswick Police Department records indicating that 81 internal affairs investigations assigned to him had been completed, knowing he had failed to conduct, complete or otherwise properly close out those investigations between January 2003 and March 2008. The grand jury also charged that Rowe removed, concealed or destroyed some of those files.
If convicted, Rowe could be sentenced to a state prison term of up to 21 ½ years. He also would lose his pension and would be banned from holding any other public job.
Rowe, who began working as a city police officer on August 20, 1990, was assigned to the Internal Affairs Division from September 23, 2002, to March 17, 2008. He was earning $123,202 annually when he was suspended without pay on March 21, 2011. He subsequently resigned on August 4, 2011.
After the New Brunswick Police Department discovered that internal affairs files were missing, the department notified the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Office of the Attorney General. In addition, the New Brunswick Police Department initiated an audit of police records.
All internal affairs complaints handled by the New Brunswick Police Department during that time period, and not just those handled by Rowe, were reviewed. Any incident where a file was missing, had not been investigated, and/or deemed not properly investigated, was re-opened and re-investigated.
The New Brunswick Police Department also implemented changes to its internal procedures to better ensure oversight and accuracy and to further safeguard record-keeping while maintaining the integrity of investigations, officials said
The New Brunswick Police Department also requested increased oversight of its Internal Affairs Division by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and now notifies the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office whenever internal affairs complaints are filed.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office will review each investigation and proposed findings of the New Brunswick Police Department before each case is closed.
In addition, the New Brunswick Police Department has submitted revised quarterly and/or yearly Internal Affairs Summary Report Forms to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Attorney General for the years 2003 through 2010.
Additionally, based on the New Brunswick Police Department’s revised statistics, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office in August 2011, submitted revised yearly report forms for Middlesex County to the Attorney General.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, Rowe is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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