NEWARK, NJ - A sergeant with the Paterson Police Department became the eighth local law enforcement official accused of and arrested for corruption, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
According to a statement Sergeant Michael Cheff, 49, was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday and expected to appear in a Newark courtroom later in the day.
Cheff routinely received a portion of the money other police officers allegedly stole from suspects that they had illegally stopped in buildings or on the streets across the city, court documents say. Additionally, the complaint reads, Cheff signed off on corresponding false police reports related to the incidents.
In one instance, on November 14, 2017, the documents say, a police officer stole a few hundred dollars from a suspect he and two others had arrested. Cheff, who joined the officers at the suspect’s apartment, obtained consent to search the apartment by lying to the individual’s mother.
Cheff is said to have located a safe inside a closet, taking the money and narcotics contained in it. After handing a small portion of the money to one of the officers to be logged into evidence, he is said to have put the rest in his pocket. Cheff allegedly gave the officer who had stayed behind to guard the suspect a portion of the stolen money, and another portion to one of the officers that searched the apartment with him.
Saying that Cheff “got us for over a stack today,” one of the officers involved is said to have sent a text message to another officer regarding the theft. “There was a safe,” the officer said in a text, and later that Cheff “grabbed the cash.” According to the individual whose apartment was searched, the safe contained approximately $2,700, and all of it was missing after the search was completed. The subsequent police report, which Cheff signed of on, only reported that $319 had been recovered from a shelf in the individual’s room.
Cheff faces up to 20 years in prison for filing false records and 10 years in prison for violating the civil rights of an individual.
The arrest arises from an investigation that Paterson Police Chief Troy Oswald has previously said was initiated internally as part of their efforts, he told TAPinto Paterson, to “police our own.”and drew a rebuke from Mayor Andre Sayegh who said that “We have zero tolerance for crooked cops in the Paterson Police Department.”
“This should serve as a cautionary tale that crime doesn’t pay, especially for law enforcement.”
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