EDISON, NJ – Five Edison police officers got paid for working side jobs that they didn’t do, according to the county prosecutor, who announced arrests and charges against the officers today.
The officers, Sergeant Ioannis (John) Mpletsakis, 38, Patrolman Paul Pappas, 43, Patrolman James Panagoulakos, 32, all of Edison Township, Patrolman Gregory Makras, 33, of Cranford, and Sergeant Brian Rossmeyer, 41, of Bedminister were each charged with two counts of second-degree official misconduct and one count of third-degree theft by unlawful taking, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey.
Carey said the arrests stem from an active investigation that could yield further accusations.
He said the probe showed that between November 14, 2016 and May 1 of this year “certain police officers of the Edison Police Department have been getting paid for extra-duty jobs which they were not present for.”
The prosecutor said the extra-duty, "side jobs," are assignments doled out by the police department “in addition to the regular hours which a member of the police department is assigned to work for the town.” He noted that, while on these jobs, which include directing traffic for utility companies and providing security services for businesses and residential communities, the officer retain full police responsibilities.
Although only the officers alleged to have taken the no-show jobs were charged, Carey said a measure of blame lies with the Edison government for having a system that enabled the behavior.
“In Edison, there is no centralized system of assignment for these extra-duty jobs,” said Carey in a statement. “Instead, several different individuals within the department have wide discretion as to who gets the assignments.”
Carey noted the side jobs can be very lucrative for those who get them. He said officers can pull in more than $100,000 per year in addition to their regular base pay and overtime.
“Payment for these side jobs is billed through Edison Township payroll for police services,” said the prosecutor. He said the money paid out by the township usually includes an administrative fee and an another fee for a police vehicle if one is needed.
"Any police officer who knowingly got paid for an off duty-job they did not do, is guilty of malfeasance,” said Carey. “Edison township officials, however, are responsible for allowing a system of fiscal irresponsibility to exist. The assignment of extra-duty jobs being handled by multiple individuals with very little oversight, paired with an inadequate system of accounting, has directly resulted in nepotism and corruption."
The arrests involve some veteran members of the Edison Police Department. According to the prosecutor’s statement, Mpletsakis has been an Edison police officer for 16 years, Pappas for 14 years, Panagoulakos for four years, Makras for seven years and Rossmeyer for 11 years.
The officers are scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in New Brunswick on June 21, according to Carey.
He said the investigation remains active “and is continuing with the possibility of additional arrests.”
People with additional information are being asked to call Edison Police Department Cpt. Kenneth Schreck (732) 248-7453 or Detective Nicholas Chiorello of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-5217.