KIYC: No-show Elizabeth police officers plead guilty to theft after investigation
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.
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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.