New Jersey police sergeant arrested as FBI corruption investigation widens

PATERSON, N.J. – A New Jersey police sergeant was arrested Tuesday as part of an internal affairs and FBI investigation into corruption within the city’s department, authorities said Tuesday.

Paterson police Sgt. Michael Cheff is the eighth city police officer arrested in the FBI’s corruption probe, which began three years ago, Police Director Jerry Speziale said.

“We had a sergeant go into handcuffs today,” Speziale said. He called it a continuation of an internal affairs and FBI investigation, nj.com reported. 

Cheff is accused of civil rights violations and falsifying police reports, according to an FBI complaint, Moreover, the sergeant is accused of stealing more than $2,000 from the safe of an alleged drug dealer and sometimes falsified paperwork to cover up the thefts of money that other officers stole, reported nj.com.

“We will never accept this as indicative of the hardworking men and women who serve (the Paterson Police Department) with integrity daily,” Speziale said.

New Jersey police sergeant

Paterson police Sgt. Michael Cheff was arrested on Tuesday morning. (Paterson Police Department)

The investigation has focused on police officers who allegedly stole thousands in cash from people after illegally stopping and searching their vehicles.

Last year, Officer Daniel Pent admitted to being part of a conspiracy in which the officers routinely illegally stopped residents, both in their vehicles and on the street, and stole money and other items from them.

Cheff, has been on the job since 1996. He was the sergeant who supervised five former patrol officers who have subsequently pleaded guilty to taking money from motorists, passengers and other people that were illegally detained.



Cheff has been suspended without pay from his $134,678 city job, officials said.

“We have zero tolerance for crooked cops in the Paterson Police Department,” city Mayor Andre Sayegh said Tuesday. “This should serve as a cautionary tale that crime doesn’t pay, especially in law enforcement.”

The FBI investigation originated in 2016.

Five police officers that were previously supervised by Cheff — Pent, Jonathan Bustios, Frank Toledo, Eudy Ramos, and Matthew Torres — await sentencing in U.S. District Court in Newark.

The FBI complaint states that four officers acted as confidential witnesses to provide evidence against Cheff.

The five officers were accused of using text messages with code words to describe their actions. The word “mango” referred to illegally seizing cash, authorities said.

In addition, former officer Ruben McAusland pleaded guilty in 2018 to drug dealing and to assaulting a patient in a hospital in an attack. Former officer Roger Then recorded the beating, then falsified reports to cover it up, officials have said.

 

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