NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - While acknowledging that police are looking into possible crimes within the water utility, Mayor James Cahill has condemned a local newspaper editor's decision to not immediately surrender a water meter to the authorities, according to a statement from his office.
City Hall also defended the police department's execution of a search warrant yesterday to retrieve the equipment. Charlie Kratovil, editor of the activist community newspaper New Brunswick Today, said he obtained the meter from a confidential source while investigating allegations of corruption in the water utility.
"A private citizen’s investigation does not outweigh an investigation by law enforcement, especially when potential evidence related to serious criminal charges may be at stake," Cahill's statement reads.
The statement describes Kratovil's possession of the water meter as "tampering," which the mayor hopes won't "compromise the investigation."
A judge signed the search warrant for the newspaper offices due to probable cause that Kratovil had received stolen property. The editor said last night that his confidential source might have obtained the meter through other means than theft.
The water utility reported a meter stolen after the newspaper live-streamed an online video featuring a green, corroded water meter.
In the statement, the mayor claims that Kratovil "refused repeated requests" to return the meter to the city. The statement also notes that it is a crime for a person to knowingly receive stolen property, even if that person merely believes the object is "probably stolen."
Kratovil called the seizure an overstep by police and a threat to journalism in New Brunswick.
The city claimed police acted within their rights.