EDISON —  Five township police officers have been charged with taking payment for extra-duty jobs for which they never showed up.

These are the latest criminal charges for a notorious police department with a decades-long history of crooked cops — including a recent case involving a cop going to prison for attempted murder and arson.

In this latest case, officers agreed to the side work, such as directing traffic and providing security for businesses and organizations, and billed for the jobs through the township's payroll service, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey.

Making a rare comment about a case, Carey on Friday faulted township officials for allowing the corruption to occur.

Sgt. Ioannis (John) Mpletsakis, 38, Patrolman Paul Pappas, 43, Patrolman James Panagoulakos, 32, all of Edison Township, Patrolman Gregory Makras, 33, of Cranford, and Sgt. Brian Rossmeyer, 41, of Bedminster, were charged with two counts of second-degree official misconduct and one count of third-degree theft by unlawful taking.

All the officers have been suspended without pay.

Chief Thomas Bryan said the department took the appropriate action.

"We identified an internal concern. We alerted the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office about those concerns and detectives from our Professional Standards Bureau worked closely with the county to investigate these matters," Bryan said in a statement Friday. "We continue to cooperate with the prosecutor’s office as this investigation proceeds.”

Carey said the investigation covered the period between November 14, 2016, and May 1, 2018.

Officers can earn more than $100,000 in addition to their base bay for these assignments.

Carey did not disclose how much money was collected by the no-show officers.

"Any police officer who knowingly got paid for an off duty-job they did not do is guilty of malfeasance. Edison township officials, however, are responsible for allowing a system of fiscal irresponsibility to exist," Carey said.

Carey also lay blame on township officials.

"The assignment of extra-duty jobs being handled by multiple individuals with very little oversight, paired with an inadequate system of accounting, has directly resulted in nepotism and corruption," Carey said in a statement.

A statement from Edison police chief Thomas Bryan was forthcoming, according to a department spokesman.

Citing anonymous sources, a report on NJ.com in May said at least 15 officers were tested for steroids and five have been placed on desk duty as a result of the investigation.

The investigation into illegal steroid use came about as part of the investigation of Officer Paul Pappas, who was charged with using a law enforcement database to stalk his ex-girlfriend, and then slashing her tires.

Last year, an Edison cop was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firebombing his supervisor's home. Michael Dotro pleaded guilty to attempted murder and arson.

Dotro also was among three other cops who admitted in 2016 to plotting to retaliate against a North Brunswick police officer who had arrested a relative of Dotro.

In 2015, a retired Edison police captain was charged with taking sick leave while he worked at another job.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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