Retaliation against senior? NJ cops could face 5 years in prison
ASBURY PARK — Two city cops accused of retaliating against a police gadfly may not only lose their jobs but spend a minimum of five years in prison with no chance of parole.
Prosecutors on Saturday said now-suspended Officer Stephen Martinsen, 30, and now-fired Class II Special Law Enforcement Officer Thomas Dowling, 26, are facing new charges of second-degree official misconduct following their arrests earlier this year on lesser charges related to a Sept. 3 incident.
Prosecutors said the cops vandalized two cars belonging to a man who days earlier had filed internal affairs complaints against the officers.
In an interview with New Jersey 101.5, 70-year-old city resident Ernest Mignoli said the cops slashed the tires of his Prius, which was parked at an Ocean Grove hotel where he was spending the night, as well as the tires of his Jeep, which was parked outside his home in Asbury Park.
Days earlier, Mignoli had filed complaints after he said he witnessed a drunk officer riding a motorized scooter on the sidewalk outside Johnny Mac House of Spirits, a bar across the street from police headquarters.
He said he also filed complaints after seeing cops drinking alcohol at Asbury Park High School during a police and firefighter softball game on June 9 and at a police event at the Asbury Park Transportation Center on June 18.
Investigators said the cops used a police knife to slash the tires and scratch Mignoli's vehicles. A window on the Jeep was blown out.
The two were arrested a day later and charged with two counts each of third-degree conspiracy, third-degree possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose, fourth-degree unlawful possession of a knife, and fourth-degree criminal mischief. Martinsen was suspended without pay.
The second-degree official misconduct charge, however, is more serious and carries a prison term of 10 years in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years if they are found guilty.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.