Prosecutors charge police officers from NJ in drug dealer protection scheme
(07/11/06) NEWARK ? Six police officers from four police departments in New Jersey were indicted Tuesday and accused of tipping off drug dealers about a raid.
According to prosecutors, the officers fed information to the dealers in exchange for drugs. Investigators say the officers and suspected drug dealers developed a social relationship in which they used drugs and partied together. When law enforcement planned on targeting the suspected dealers, prosecutors say the accused officers tipped their friends off to an August 2004 raid. The main substances involved included the painkiller OxyContin, cocaine and steroids.
Although the officers were arrested during the past 18 months, the case was only made public after the indictments were handed down. All of the officers have been suspended and face charges including conspiracy to commit official misconduct, conspiracy to possess narcotics, official misconduct, witness tampering and hindering apprehension. The officers charged were 30-year-old Pompton Lakes Officer Dennis DePrima, 29-year-old Pompton Lakes Officer Robert J. Palianto, 34-year-old Pompton Lakes Officer Michael Megna, 26-year-old Ringwood Officer Paul Kleiber, 26-year-old West Paterson Officer Richard Beagin and 46-year-old Passaic County Sheriff?s Officer Gerry Ward.