JERSEY CITY - Four Jersey City police officers have been indicted on over 100 counts, including theft by deception, falsifying records, official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct. The charges apparently stem from activities that were first exposed in a series of Kane In Your Corner investigations in 2014 and 2015.
The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office confirms a grand jury handed up the indictments against retired Capt. Joseph Ascolese, Lt. Kelly Chesler, Police Officer Michael Maietti and Police Officer Michael O’Neil.
In 2014, Kane In Your Corner investigated Ascolese, Chesler and Maietti for alleged policy violations and excessive overtime at the Jersey City Motorcycle Squad and Emergency Services Unit. All three had been assigned take-home vehicles for their personal use, in violation of Jersey City policy. All had also racked up large amounts of overtime. In the case of Ascolese, the overtime was not supported by any documentation. For example, payroll records showed he had received nearly $24,000 in overtime related to Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. However, his time sheets and overtime request forms showed he had only requested four hours of overtime. Jersey City officials had no explanation for the discrepancy.
Following that Kane In Your Corner investigation, Jersey City referred the case to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. It later shut down the motorcycle squad.
In March, 2015, Kane In Your Corner reported the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office was also investigating whether several Jersey City police officers were paid for off-duty work that was never performed, in connection to providing traffic control at an ongoing construction project on the Pulaski Skyway. At least two of the same officers involved in the motorcycle squad investigation were also linked to the Pulaski Skyway probe.
Sources did not immediately confirm which incidents form the basis of the indictments, which are expected to be made public tomorrow.
In a written statement, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop says, “We have taken an aggressive approach to root out corruption that has plagued Jersey City for decades as this is the second high profile case we initiated ourselves through the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. Today’s 100-count indictment speaks to the extensive nature of the abuse by these individuals. We are thankful for the partnership with the HCPO and we will continue to change the culture by rooting out employees who take advantage of the public trust.”