3 officers admit roles in fraudulent off-duty work scheme
Jul. 25, 2017
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Three Jersey City police officers pleaded guilty Tuesday to roles in a scheme to get officers paid for off-duty work they didn't perform.
James Cardinali, 38, of Jersey City; Victor Sanchez, 37, of Hasbrouck Heights; and Christopher Ortega, 29, of Brick, face up to five years in prison when they are sentenced Nov. 6.
Cardinali's duties included serving as the "pick coordinator" for Jersey City's South District, meaning he assigned officers to various off-duty details, prosecutors said.
On multiple occasions, Cardinali asked some vendor representatives to sign vouchers that falsely indicated an officer had completed an assignment for them. When the officers were paid for those assignments, some of the money was given to Cardinali.
Sanchez and Ortega admitted allowing false and fraudulent vouchers to be submitted and receiving money for work they did not perform.
"Christopher Ortega made a terrible mistake. As a result he has embarrassed himself and given up his career as a police officer," his attorney, Henry Klingeman, told The Jersey Journal. "He is extremely remorseful and he will express both his remorse and his intentions for the future at sentencing."
Cardinali's attorney, Matthew Beck, said his client "accepts responsibility for what he did." Sanchez's attorney, Joel Silberman, declined to comment.
Each of the three men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. Cardinali will also have to forfeit $39,587 he received through the scheme, while Sanchez will forfeit $21,583 and Ortega will forfeit $18,336, according to federal prosecutors.
Two other officers previously pleaded guilty to roles in the scheme. One has since died, while the other is awaiting sentencing.