ELIZABETH — An officer with the Union County Police Department is accused of stealing from Walmart and Target stores in Central Jersey by counterfeiting barcodes.

Blake Clay, 33, of Rahway, was charged Thursday with third-degree theft after ripping off the stores by more than $675, the Union County Prosecutor's Office said Friday.

Clay created his own barcodes that would deeply discount items at the check-out aisle. Items that cost $15.99 to $39.99 would ring up as $1.50 to $4.50, prosecutors said.

Clay allegedly used this scheme 12 times at stores in Clark, Edison, Linden, and Woodbridge from February through late April.

Clay has nearly 14 years of experience as a cop and collects a base salary of $83,300, records show. He will be suspended without pay as he awaits trial.

He could face three to five years in prison if found guilty.

It was not immediate clear Friday afternoon whether Clay had an attorney. Clay could not be reached for comment.

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