ELIZABETH - Two veteran Elizabeth police officers have pleaded guilty to theft in a no-show jobs scandal exposed last year in a Kane In Your Corner investigation.
Christopher Flatley was a 24-year veteran and Michael Tropeano was a 15-year veteran of the department, but neither will work in law enforcement again. Both pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree theft. They are among more than 20 officers who were suspected of getting paid for hours they did not actually work during off-duty security details at Elizabeth’s four senior housing centers.
Under a plea agreement, Flatley will be sentenced to probation, and agreed to repay taxpayers $2,235. He agrees not to hold another public job but due to the nature of the offense, will likely be allowed to keep his pension benefits.
Tropeano will also get probation. He will repay taxpayers $1,260 and will also be banned form public service. Tropeano does not qualify for a pension.
In a written statement, Tropeano’s attorney, Robert Stahl, says his client was unfairly singled out. "It is a sad day when a dedicated officer has to plead guilty to an offense that could have been handled administratively," Stahl says. He adds, “Unfortunately, the Prosecutor's Office has selectively enforced a very broad criminal statute to charge conduct that is routinely handled internally by the police director."
Under the plea agreement, Flatley only admits to stealing $630 from taxpayers although he will repay $2,235. Tropeano admits to stealing $720 but will repay $1,260. That’s in part because under the agreement, both men only had to plead guilty to one count of theft each, and additional theft charges against them were dropped.