By Peter Eichenbaum and Mitchel Maddux, Herald & News
(Wednesday, October 29, 1997)
Accused of taking money for side jobs they never worked, five Passaic police officers were indicted on official misconduct charges Tuesday, authorities said.
James Pangaro and Eriberto Carrero were indicted by a Passaic County grand jury on charges of second-degree official misconduct and theft by deception. If convicted they could face up to 10 years in prison.
The other officers--Robert Longo, Jose Rivera and Detective Odalys Alvarez--were indicted on charges of third-degree official misconduct and could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
In response to complains of juvenile delinquency, all of the officers had been hired to provide protection at School 4. Instead of watching the school, the officers allegedly worked other off-0duty jobs or patrolled the city, yet still collected paychecks for working at the school, authorities said.
During the alleged "double-dipping: scheme, which took place between 1994 and 1996, Pangaro and Carrero were the police department's scheduling officers for off-duty jobs. Because they were responsible for overseeing the scheduling, the time conflicts were not uncovered earlier, authorities said.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Arthur G. Margeotes said the allegations arose after Passaic school officials reported that the officers had failed to show up for their shifts. An investigation suggested that the officers were often working two jobs at once.
Pangaro, Carrero and Longo were suspended and stripped of their guns and badges at the beginning of the investigation.
Police Chief Stanley A. Jarensky said late Tuesday that he had not received official notification for the indictments and would not consider taking action against the other officers until then.
In 1995, police officials celebrated Alvarez's appointment to the detective bureau, the first Hispanic woman to serve there in the department's history. She is on leave for an injury she sustained in a sept. 6 car accident.
"It was quite obvious that the officers could not physically be in two places at one time, which would allow them to collect salary for more than one job," Margeotes said. "Once all the work schedule records and payroll records were obtained, it was quite clear that the conflicts occurred. It was a relatively easy case to prove."
Pangaro and Carrero were also charged with working off-duty jobs at Passaic's welfare and unemployment offices on Henry Street.
The indictments may be yet another blow to morale in a department that has been plagued by a series of recent scandals. The police brass, particularly Deputy Chief Richard Wolak, have repeatedly stressed that they are working to clean up a troubled department and to rid it of corruption.
"When we find it, we root it out and make an arrest," said Jarensky.
Last month, Salvatore Mastropole pleaded guilty to arson for dousing his automobile with lighter fluid and torching the car on Route 21 in Clifton in a 1995 scheme to collect insurance money.
Last year, Detective Craig Young, who was charged with stealing cocaine, was fired after failing a drug test.
Robert Feliciano resigned from the force last February and subsequently was sentenced to probation for orchestrating a scheme to defraud an insurance company of several thousand dollars by falsely reporting his car stolen.
Officer Nicholas D'Aloisio was arrested by the FBI last November on extortion charges for allegedly trying to cover up the stabbing of a debtor by a mob goon.