ATLANTIC CITY — An Atlantic County jury today returned a verdict totaling $250,000.00 in favor of New Jersey State Trooper Jaime Ablett after finding that he was the subject of a false accusation of wrongdoing, his attorney announced via press release.
According to to Colin G. Bell, Esquire of the firm Hankin Sandman & Palladino, the facts at trial established that on May 2, 2009, Mr. Ablett left a wedding reception at the 5 Points Inn in Buena Vista Township in a vehicle driven by his wife. Mr. Ablett’s car was
involved in an accident when a vehicle driven by Dana Scarpine lost control, spun out and slammed into the driver’s side door
where Mrs. Ablett was sitting. Both Mr. and Mrs. Ablett suffered injuries as a result of the accident.
According to Bell, the jury found that an acquaintance of Ms. Scarpine’s, Kristen McGee of Vineland, who was working at the 5 Points that evening but did not witness the accident, later falsely claimed that Mr. Ablett was the actual driver of the vehicle and switched seats with his wife after the accident. On May 29, 2009, her father, Dennis McGee of Vineland, called the New Jersey State Police
Office of Professional Standards. During a recorded phone call, he reported that Mr. Ablett was intoxicated, was “flagged” at the
bar due to his high level of intoxication, and that Kristen McGee had actually observed Mr. Ablett switch seats with his wife after
As a result, the State Police conducted an internal affairs investigation of Mr. Ablett, according to Bell. After a year long investigation into the incident, the State Police found the accusation “unfounded” and cleared Mr. Ablett of any wrongdoing.
Eyewitness testimony at the trial demonstrated that Mr. Ablett was not intoxicated, was not “flagged,” and did not switch seats after the accident. The jury’s verdict confirmed that Mr. Ablett had proven that the accusations against him were false. The jury further awarded damages of $25,000 against Kristen McGee and $225,000 against Dennis McGee.
“My client was falsely accused of serious wrongdoing that could have resulted in him being fired or even prosecuted criminally,” said Bell. “He has waited four long years to clear his name once and for all and to receive compensation for the damage to his reputation and the anguish he suffered as a result of these false allegations.”
Bell added that while he encourages citizens to cooperate with law enforcement and report any suspected criminal activity to police, he hopes that people will think twice before making false accusations against law enforcement officers. “State troopers and other police officers are held to a higher standard of conduct than an average citizen,” Bell said, “a false allegation can do enormous damage to their careers and reputations.”