EDISON — Another member of the township's beleaguered police department has found himself in legal trouble, this time for attempting to destroy evidence, prosecutors said.

Officer Nicholas R. Lunetta, 31, was arrested and charged with fourth-degree tampering with evidence and fourth-degree obstructing the administration of the law, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said.

The prosecutor said Lunetta believed the evidence "would be included in a pending official proceeding or investigation." Lunetta tampered with and destroyed evidence over the course of three days in March, Carey said.

Officials said the evidence was not tied to an investigation of Lunetta himself but of other officers.

Back in June, five members of the department were arrested and charged with taking payment for no-show extra-duty jobs. The officers agreed to take side jobs like directing traffic and providing security, and billed for jobs through the township's payroll service, Carey said.

Those charges came after several members of the department were caught using illegal steroids, and after another officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firebombing a supervisor's home while his family slept inside.

Lunetta turned himself into the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office on Thursday and was released pending an initial court date on Jan. 3.

He has been suspended from the Edison Police Department without pay, Carey said. State pension records show Lunetta has nine years of experience with the department and has a base salary of $84,361.

Chief Tom Bryan and Mayor Thomas Lankey, who also serves as public safety director, said it would be "inappropriate to comment at this time." The department forwarded all questions to the prosecutor's office.

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