CLICK HERE TO REPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRUPTION (Provide as much information as possible: full names, descriptions, dates, times, activity, witnesses, etc.)

Telephone: 347-632-9775

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Officer Calls Misconduct Charge Retaliation

Atlantic City police officer calls misconduct charge retaliation
Press of Atlantic City by Lynda Cohen - March 28, 2012

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — A veteran police officer says he was charged criminally because he would not help set up a case against several prominent officials, including the mayor and police chief. Officer Michael Jones, who has worked for the Atlantic City Police Department since 2001, is charged with official misconduct and theft for allegedly violating the rules of the Live-In Police Officers Program by taking a more than 80 percent discount on rent for an apartment in Stanley Holmes Village and then subletting it for a profit. But Jones, 39, insisted Wednesday that he did live in the apartment on Caspian Place from April 2005 until he was asked to leave last May. Instead, he claims that Detective Jason Kangas, of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Official Corruption Unit, told him “that if I cooperated with him and helped him build cases against several individuals ... he would make the charges against me go away.” Mayor Lorenzo Langford, police Chief Ernest Jubilee, Atlantic City Council President William “Speedy” Marsh and Councilman Marty Small were named, he said. All four men and Jones are black. “I think there are racial overtones in those allegations,” defense attorney James Leonard Jr. said, calling it a “racially motivated witch hunt.” “That’s so untrue,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said of the race claim. “That is ... I need to find the word ... reprehensible on his part.” Leonard earlier used the same word to describe the investigation’s alleged tactics in going after his client. “The way that (Jones) was treated at his home, I find to be reprehensible,” he said. Housel said he could not, under the law, comment on whether anyone from his office spoke with Jones, but stressed that the investigation was a joint one with the FBI’s Public Corruption Task Force. His office also never comments on whether an investigation exists, so could not comment further on whether the four men named are the targets of an investigation. Jones said Kangas’ questions did not lead him to believe there was any current investigation on the four he named. Housel said the allegations against Jones are not about black and white, but green. “This fellow, for years, received thousands of dollars from people to whom he sublet an apartment he agreed to actually live in and did not,” Housel said. The Live-In Police Officers Program allows officers to lease public housing at a significantly discounted rate in exchange for active community policing. According to the charges, Jones rented the $1,035-per-month apartment for $202, then collected between $39,200 and $51,000 in rent money. “There is absolutely nothing to the allegations,” Leonard said. “Officer Jones never earned $1 from any illicit activity. He never charged anyone rent at 1522 Caspian Place.” Jones said he was asked to leave the program in May 2011. That was, according to the charges, because Jones was violating his agreement. “The Housing Authority provides housing for many, many minorities, and we are acting after being informed by them about an offense about which they are the victim,” Housel said. “Shame on (Leonard) for bringing race into what is simply alleged official misconduct. That’s just offensive to me.” The authority and taxpayers lost $61,642 in potential rent during the time Jones was in the program, the charges claim. Local PBA President Dave Davidson said Jones is in good standing with the union and that they will stand by him throughout the process. “We are all protected by the same Constitution, where a person is presumed innocent,” Davidson said. “We are going to make sure he’s given his rights, and that his rights are protected.” Housel took issue with previous statements Leonard made that were published in The Press of Atlantic City, saying the allegations were disheartening not only to Jones but to all the officers of the department. “He is using this to try to put a wedge between my office and the hardworking and honest officers of the Atlantic City Police Department,” he said. “They do put their lives on the line every day. However, we do not allege that they steal thousands of dollars by taking advantage of a program for police officers to live in Housing Authority apartments.” Leonard and Jones insist this officer hasn’t either. “I am 100 percent innocent of these charges and the allegations against me are completely false,” Jones said. Leonard said there will be no plea deal in the case, and is adamant that it will be taken to trial. “We will establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he lived in that apartment the entire time he was involved in the program,” Leonard said. Contact Lynda Cohen: 609-272-7257 -

No comments: