NJ cop had sex in patrol car, lied, didn’t think he should get fired
A Plainfield police officer who admitted having sex with a woman in a patrol car — and who lied about the incident when it was investigated — has lost a bid to get his job back.
The details of an investigation into the 2011 tryst and former Officer Fernando Sanchez's other on-duty sexual encounters are revealed in a New Jersey Civil Service Commission decision.
In 2013, fellow officer Sgt. Samuel Woody was found guilty of coercing a 27-year-old city woman into stripping masturbated while he masturbated, on duty and in uniform. She taped the incident, leading to his convictions for second-degree official misconduct and fourth-degree criminal sexual assault.
According to the CSC decision's account of Sanchez's case, his sexual encounter was with the same woman, and came to light while authorities investigated Woody.
In his appeal to the CSC, Sanchez argued he shouldn't have lost his job — and only be suspended — because he stopped having sex on duty after the investigation.
"Indeed, Sanchez' arguments for mitigation border on ludicrous," administrative law Judge Leslie Z. Celentano wrote in the CSC decision. "He asserts that '(the) remaining alleged improper conduct all relates to alleged sexual activities while on duty, all of which occurred prior to July 24, 2011. Notably, Sanchez has only been charged with having sexual relations with a civilian in a police vehicle while on duty, but the record reveals he frequently met with this (and other) paramours to have sexual relations, while on duty.
"Sanchez's suggestion that the penalty should be mitigated because he ceased such behavior after his indiscretions became the subject of a criminal investigation is absurd."
Sanchez also argued that he admitted to the liaison — but both sides stipulated that when asked if he'd had sexual relations in his patrol car by prosecutors, he answered "I honestly don't think so," according to the CSC decision. It said he was "absurdly asserting that he didn't think he had sexual relations in his police vehicle."
Celentano wrote that Sanchez's mostly clean disciplinary record wasn't enough to mitigate the serious infraction of the sex while on duty.
She rejected a series of procedural arguments related to the investigation as well.
Celentano wrote Sanchez's seeming inability to comprehend the gravity of his actions "compel the penalty of removal."
"As Plainfield argues, Sanchez's behavior 'shows a lack of respect for the public, a disregard for the duties of a police officer, and a lack of consideration for the civilian involved,'" Celentano wrote.
She continued in her quote of Plainfield's argument: "Officer Sanchez obviously thought so little of his badge that he found it acceptable to have sex in public while in duty."
MyCentralJerey.com, which reported on the decision Saturday, cited Sanchez's former former attorney, Michael J. Mitzner of Watchung, saying he planned to appeal the decision.
The full decision is below: