Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that two former Hudson County sheriff’s officers were sentenced to state prison and county jail today for signing false documents so that a bounty hunter could collect additional fees for fugitives he didn’t catch. The bounty hunter, Adel Mikhaeil, who paid the sheriff’s officers for their aid, was sentenced in March to six years in prison.
William Chadwick, 59, of Keansburg, a former Hudson County sheriff’s officer, was sentenced today to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Stuart A. Minkowitz in Morris County. Chadwick pleaded guilty on July 14, 2009 to second-degree official misconduct. He must forfeit $5,500 in illegal cash gifts that he admitted receiving from Mikhaeil.
Alberto Vasquez, 46, of Apex, North Carolina, a former detective with the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, was sentenced today by Judge Minkowitz to 90 days in the county jail as a condition of four years of probation. Vasquez pleaded guilty on Jan. 12, 2010 to third-degree pattern of official misconduct. He must forfeit $3,500 in illegal cash gifts that he admitted receiving from Mikhaeil.
In pleading guilty, both Chadwick and Vasquez admitted that they signed documents known as body receipts that falsely indicated that Mikhaeil caught certain fugitives, when the fugitives had actually been arrested by law enforcement officers. They admitted that Mikhaeil paid them for signing false body receipts and also for providing official information about fugitives, including arrest photos. Both men are permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey as a result of their guilty pleas.
A third defendant, Trevor Williams, 42, of Jersey City, a bounty hunter who was employed by Mikhaeil, was sentenced today by Judge Minkowitz to 90 days in the county jail as a condition of three years of probation. He pleaded guilty on April 20, 2012 to third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution and fourth-degree fabricating physical evidence. Williams admitted that he helped to cover up $92,550 in commercial bribes that Mikhaeil paid to an insurance company executive in return for business.
Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione, Chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Jacqueline Weyand handled the sentencings. They prosecuted the case with Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Manis. The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police, the Division of Criminal Justice and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
“These former sheriff’s officers put their honesty and honor up for sale, betraying the oath they took to uphold the law so that they could enrich themselves and this bounty hunter,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Sheriff’s officers deal with criminals every day in our justice system in various capacities, so it is highly alarming if they cross the line and commit crimes themselves.”
“We hold members of law enforcement to the highest standards because they are responsible for enforcing our laws, protecting the public and handling sensitive information,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “By putting these corrupt sheriff’s officers behind bars, we are affirming those rigorous standards.”
The investigation was conducted by Lt. Myles Cappiello and Detective Sgt. 1st Class Neil Hickey of the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption North Unit; Deputy Attorneys General Picione and Manis, Detective Scott Donlan, and Analyst Alison Callery of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau; and Detective Sgt. Mary Reinke of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. The Hudson County Sheriff’s Office also assisted in the investigation.
The state’s investigation revealed that Mikhaeil, 50, of Stroudsburg, Pa., conspired with the sheriff’s officers to have them sign false “body receipts” indicating that he had caught fugitives, when, in fact, the fugitives had already been arrested by law enforcement. As a result, Mikhaeil collected higher fees from the insurance companies that insured the fugitives’ bail bonds. While a bounty hunter does receive a fee for a “paper transfer” when he locates a fugitive who already is in custody, the fee is lower than for a physical apprehension by the bounty hunter. The false body receipts also led to a reduction in the amount of bail forfeited, resulting in savings for the bail bond insurers, but a loss to the counties where the fugitive jumped bail and the State, which divide forfeited funds.
As indicated above, Williams admitted that he helped to cover up $92,550 in commercial bribes that Mikhaeil paid to an insurance company executive in return for business. The executive, John Sullivan, a former vice president for Sirius America Insurance Company, pleaded guilty to commercial bribery and money laundering. He was sentenced on March 1, 2013 to 90 days of jail time and three years of probation. He forfeited the $92,550 in commercial bribes he received from Mikhaeil. Mikhaeil pleaded guilty to attempting to induce Sullivan to give false information to law enforcement about the commercial bribes. Another employee of Mikhaeil’s, George Formoe, 48, of Ridgefield Park, pleaded guilty to covering up those payments and was sentenced on May 10, 2013 to two years of probation.
On Feb. 5, 2009, another defendant indicted with Mikhaeil, James Irizarry, 48, of Mohnton, Pa., pleaded guilty to commercial bribery. Irizarry admitted he took bribes from Mikhaeil in return for hiring Mikhaeil to recover fugitives for his former employer and for approving Mikhaeil’s invoices for payment. Irizarry worked for a firm that locates fugitives for insurance companies that insure bail bonds. Irizarry is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Minkowitz on May 22. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 364 days in jail and a term of probation. He forfeited $5,000 Mikhaeil gave him.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman and Director Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free tip line 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. Additionally, the public can log on to the Division of Criminal Justice webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing. All information received will remain confidential.