TRENTON – A civilian employee of the New Jersey State Police was indicted for allegedly posing as an inspector to coerce two men from South Carolina into giving her one of the generators they were selling at a roadside location in Burlington County after Superstorm Sandy, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced.
Marcella Friedman, 50, of Hamilton (Mercer County), who is employed as a State Police communications systems technician, was indicted Friday, July 26, by a state grand jury on second-degree charges of official misconduct and theft by extortion. The indictment is the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, which will prosecute the case.
It is alleged that on Oct. 31, 2012, Friedman confronted two men from South Carolina who were selling generators at Routes 206 and 537 in Springfield, Burlington County. She was wearing a field jacket with the State Police logo and was carrying a state-issued handheld police radio. Friedman allegedly falsely represented she had authority to regulate vendors and shut down those without a permit. She allegedly threatened to arrest the men, fine them and confiscate their merchandise, but said she would leave them alone if they gave her a generator free of charge. The men allegedly gave her an 8,500-watt generator, which she gave to a relative, who sold it to a third party. Friedman was on disability leave from the State Police at the time and remains on leave.
“We allege that Friedman used her state-issued jacket and radio to secure a generator through extortion,” said Hoffman. “It’s absolutely reprehensible that a State Police employee would abuse her position in that way, especially at a time when so many people were suffering and so many troopers and civilian employees of the force were giving their all to help after Superstorm Sandy.”
“We have zero tolerance for those who unlawfully use their public positions for personal gain,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Friedman is charged with corruptly exploiting her job with the State Police and the statewide emergency created by Superstorm Sandy. She rightfully faces serious charges.”
“Friedman violated the trust that the citizens of New Jersey placed in the State Police during a time when we were needed most,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “She abused the State Police name for personal gain, but her actions will not overshadow the dedication and heroism our troopers and civilian employees displayed during Hurricane Sandy.”
The indictment was presented to the state grand jury by Deputy Attorneys General Peter W. Lee and Valerie R. Butler. The case was investigated by Lt. Gary Sandes of the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and Deputy Attorney General Lee of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The charge of official misconduct carries a mandatory minimum term of five years of parole ineligibility. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Burlington County, where Friedman will be ordered to appear in court at a later date to be arraigned on the charges.
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