ELIZABETH — A city police officer has been charged with lying to her insurance company about an injury she sustained while on the job.

Prosecutors say Alana Velazquez, 39, of Rahway, told her supplemental insurance company that she was injured while off-duty even though her January 2016 injury happened while on the job. Her supplemental insurance does not cover on-the-job injuries. As a result of lying to the insurance company, Velazquez received $8,600 in disability benefits to which she was not entitled, officials said Thursday.

Her lawyer, however, says Velazquez is innocent and suggested the criminal charges are a result of Velazquez suing the city for discrimination two years ago.

Her lawyer also called into question a potential conflict of interest between Police Chief John Brennan and Union County Acting Prosecutor Thomas Isenhour and said Velazquez is yet "one more victim of an already out-of-control police director," James Cosgrove.

"It is no small coincidence that the Elizabeth Police Department, despite being a city that is predominantly Latino and African-American, does not have a single black officer above the rank of sergeant, and the only reason there are any black sergeants in Elizabeth is because the Department of Justice ordered it," attorney Joshua F. McMahon said Thursday in response to the arrest. Velazquez is black.

"Cosgrove using his political connections to carry out acts of retaliation against Officers who dare to stand up to the Director when he does wrong is nothing new," he said.

NJ.com reported that Velazquez's lawsuit claims she was forced to work while she was injured and that officials besmirched her character by accusing her of having a relationship with a convicted felon and using her race to get ahead.

Velazquez is facing charges of second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree theft by deception, and three counts of fourth-degree uttering a forged document.

Velazquez makes a base salary of $97,460 with eight years on the job.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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