Camden, NJ–(ENEWSPF)– Two Camden police officers are in federal custody, charged in a nine-count Indictment unsealed today with conspiring with fellow police officers to deprive others of their civil rights and with specific instances of violating those rights, United States Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Antonio Figueroa, 34, of Camden, was arrested this morning at his home by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Robert Bayard, 32, of Pennsauken, N.J., surrendered this morning to federal authorities in Camden. Both defendants are expected to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Karen Williams this afternoon in Camden federal court.
With the indictment of Figueroa and Bayard, a total of five officers have been charged in connection with this investigation. Kevin Parry, 30, Jason Stetser, 32, and Dan E. Morris, 47, entered guilty pleas before United States District Judge Robert B. Kugler earlier this year on March 19, June 29, and August 26, respectively. All three await sentencing.
According to the Indictment, other documents filed in connection with this investigation, and statements made in court:
From May 2007 to October 2009, and while on duty as uniformed police officers with the Camden Police Department, Figueroa and Bayard engaged in a conspiracy with at least three other officers: Dan E. Morris, Jason Stetser and Kevin Parry. At the time, all five defendants were assigned to a common unit and shift: Special Operations, 4th Platoon.
The officers conspired to deprive individuals of their due process rights by charging them with planted evidence and threatening certain individuals with arrest using planted evidence if they did not cooperate with law enforcement. The defendants are also charged with paying for cooperation and information with illegal drugs; conducting illegal searches without a search warrant or consent; and stealing money and drugs during illegal searches and arrests. The defendants also failed to report found drugs and stashed them to use as planted evidence—adding drugs to the amounts seized during arrests in order to make the arrests appear more significant and expose the targets to greater potential penalties.
Additionally, the defendants used unreasonable force, unlawfully detained individuals, and prepared false police reports or testified falsely under oath to conceal their actions. Specific examples of this conduct are outlined in the Indictment as counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.
Figueroa and Bayard have been on unpaid leave status with the Camden Police Department since November 2009.
U.S. Attorney Fishman stated: "The repeated, systematic violations of civil rights alleged in the Indictment betrayed all the citizens the officers were sworn to protect and the honest and well-intentioned men and women who wear their badges with honor. The people of New Jersey deserve better. There is no place in law enforcement for crooked cops, and we will continue to follow any credible lead of criminal misconduct by law enforcement officials."
"As this case demonstrates, we are vigilant to catch any corrupt police officers," said New Jersey Attorney General Paula T. Dow. "We will vigorously prosecute these cases in order to restore public trust and support the efforts of the countless honest officers who put their lives on the line each day to protect us."
Camden City Police Department Chief of Police John Scott Thomson said, "We will continue to aggressively pursue any individual who betrays their oath, badge or the public’s trust."
The counts contained in the Indictment and the maximum potential penalties if convicted are as follows:
|Count||Charge||Defendant(s)||Maximum Potential Penalty|
|1||Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights||Figueroa, Bayard||10 years in prison; $250,000 fine|
|2||Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law||Figueroa||One year in prison; $100,000 fine|
|3||Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law||Figueroa, Bayard||One year in prison; $100,000 fine|
|4||Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law||Figueroa||One year in prison; $100,000 fine|
|5||Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law||Figueroa, Bayard||One year in prison; $100,000 fine|
|6||Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law||Bayard||One year in prison; $100,000 fine|
|7||Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law||Figueroa, Bayard||One year in prison; $100,000 fine|
|8||Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law||Figueroa||One year in prison; $100,000 fine|
|9||Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law||Figueroa||One year in prison; $100,000 fine|
Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Resident Agency in Cherry Hill, N.J., under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jayne L. Challman; investigators and prosecutors of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk; deputy attorney generals from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Division of Criminal Justice, under the direction of Attorney General Paula T. Dow; and the Camden Police Department, under the direction of Chief John S. Thomson, with developing the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin T. Smith and Matthew J. Skahill of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden, along with Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Kase, a Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Chief of the Public Corruption Unit with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office—on special assignment for purposes of this investigation.
The charges and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.