Out of New Jersey’s 38,000 state, county, and local law enforcement officers, more than 350 were listed as having received “major discipline” over the course of 2021.

The state defines major discipline as terminations, reductions in rank, or suspension of more than five days.

It’s the first full year of data released by the Office of the Attorney General under efforts to be more transparent and accountable with the public.

Though densely worded with law enforcement terminology, the report is the first time that such internal policy violations and offenses have been readily available for private citizens to read.

The volume of now-public information is too much for some, who fear retaliation or a breach of assumed privacy for law enforcement — but not enough for civil rights advocates, who say still more details are needed.

“The report reveals a disturbingly high level of misconduct and disturbingly low level of transparency. We now know more about officer misconduct and discipline than we did before the AG’s Directive, but still not nearly enough,” American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey Senior Supervising Attorney and Director of Supreme Court Advocacy Alexander Shalom said to New Jersey 101.5.

“The public deserves more than vague summaries that tell us little about how those people entrusted with great responsibility have violated the public trust. The time is right for the Legislature to open up police disciplinary records as states like Florida and Alabama have done for years.”

A lawsuit filed in 2020 by State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey said identifying troopers in such a report would lead to harassment of their families or expose victims of domestic violence. The same suit said it would void decades of expectation that disciplinary records are confidential.

The State PBA and its local chapters also previously said that releasing "misleading data" about officers would amount to a data dump that doesn't tell a complete story.

A unanimous state Supreme Court in June 2021 upheld the authority of the Attorney General to require the release of such records.

Social media offenses were among those documented.

A Tik Tok video deemed a threat to coworkers, and a social media post during Black Lives Matter protests that earned one officer a suspension and another their job.

There were DUIs both on and off-duty, failed drug tests, at least seven officers who violated body camera policies and six incidents that mention “use of force” (or “unnecessary” force) that earned suspensions of varied lengths.

Among the most egregious offenses were accused sexual crimes.

As has already been reported, correctional officers were fired at the women’s prison in Hunterdon County following the January 2021 overnight beating of Edna Mahan inmates that has ultimately led to its planned shutdown.

Of the incidents listed for the year, 86 officers statewide were fired. The rest were demotions, suspensions or both.

Out of roughly 297 suspensions recorded between Jan. 1, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2021:

  • 13 law enforcement officers were suspended twice within the year for different offenses
  • Five officers were suspended and then fired
  • Three officers were suspended three different times
  • There were at least seven instances of body-worn camera violations, two among those fired.

Agencies report major discipline only once appeals have been exhausted,  so some officers suspended in 2021 did not appear on the report as determinations had not been finalized.

Similarly, officers with discipline that began in a prior year, made final in 2021, were included.

Some of the most serious accusations and notable situations from the report:

Jersey City police officer sex assault girls NJOAG
Stephen Wilson (NJ Attorney General's Office)
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Jersey City Police Officer Stephen Wilson

Terminated: Yes
Suspended: 133 days (before being fired)
Sustained offense: Criminal Acts
Description: Police Officer Stephen Wilson was arrested by the NJSP on 2/26/21. On 09/16/21 he pled guilty to criminal attempt aggravated sexual assault.

In September, Wilson admitted traveling to Atlantic City earlier in the year in a bid to sexually assault two young girls.

Mark Stinnard
Mark Stinnard (Passaic County Prosecutor's Office)
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Pompton Lakes Boro Police Officer Mark Stinnard

Terminated: Yes
Sustained Offense: 2C:24-4
Description: Officer Stinnard was terminated after pleading guilty to 3rd Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
In November, Mark Stinnard admitted to having sex with an underage girl and exchanging nude photos with her. He pleaded guilty in state Superior Court to endangering the welfare of a child. Under terms of his plea, Stinnard is barred from public employment in the future.

Hudson County Department of Corrections Officer Samuel Felix

Terminated: Yes
Description: Officer Felix was terminated from employment for Conduct Unbecoming. Officer pled guilty to Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Felix had first faced a criminal charge in 2015, stemming from allegations of child pornography downloaded to his cell phone, as reported by Jersey Journal.

Edna Mahan Correctional Facility
Edna Mahan Correctional Facility (Google Street View)
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Department of Corrections: Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women - 16 corrections officers fired, 5 corrections officers suspended

“Officers suspended in 2021 for whom the discipline determination is not final will not appear on this form,” according to the OAG, for several not named in the year-long report.

There were 12 firings at Edna Mahan last year, stemming from the January 2021 overnight beatings of female inmates.

LUIS GARCIA
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

MATTHEW FASCHAN
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

ANTHONY VALVANO
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

AMIR BETHEA
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

ANDRAIA BRIDGES
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

EDDIE MOLINA
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

DESIREE LEWIS
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

MARIKA SPROW
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

COUREY JAMES
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

GUSTAVO SARMIENTO
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

JOSE IRIZARRY
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

TARA WALLACE
Terminated: Yes
Description: Arrested and criminally charged for mistreatment of an inmate. Falsified report.

Separately, four officers were fired for other offenses at Edna Mahan:

HENDERSON SHANAYA
Terminated: Yes
Description: Communicated, facilitated gambling and other financial transactions with inmates. Falsified report.

MONIQUE DOUGLAS
Terminated: Yes
Description: Violated residency requirement for NJ state workers. Falsified documents.

JASMINE TAYLOR
Terminated: Yes
Description: Excessive or chronic absenteeism, after a previous 15-day suspension for the same offense.

ANTHONY VARGAS
Terminated: Yes
Description: Job Abandonment

NJ state police SUV
(NJ State Police Facebook page)
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NJ State Police - 5 fired,19 suspensions involving 18 troopers

Married detectives with the State Police who lied about their involvement in a 2020 North Wildwood bar brawl were among those listed as terminated for 2021.

State Police Detective Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Ogden and Detective Sgt. Dorothy Ogden, both of Hammonton, agreed to leave the State Police and be permanently banned from public office and public employment in New Jersey, as part of a negotiated deal with the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.

State Police Trooper Michael Patterson
Terminated: Yes
Sustained Offense: Terminated Prior To Sustained Charges

Patterson, of Bayonne, pleaded guilty in August 2021 to a fourth-degree charge of tampering with public records. The now fired state trooper was sentenced to a year in prison for stalking a female motorist in his patrol vehicle while on duty. He had purposely disabled the Digital In-Vehicle Recorder in his troop car to prevent it from capturing the motor vehicle stop in 2020.

State Police Trooper I Brian Kerrigan
Terminated: Yes
Sustained Offense: Harassment, Questionable Conduct - Off Duty
Description: The member violated the terms of a previously negotiated plea agreement for misconduct by repeated harassing behavior towards a civilian. The member was terminated from employment within the Division.

State Police Sergeant Kristopher Gersten
Terminated: Yes
Sustained Offense: Drunk On Duty, Sleeping On Duty, Alcohol Violations, Drinking On Duty, Failure To Carry Duty Weapon, Culpable Inefficient Supervision
Description: The member violated the terms of a previously negotiated plea agreement for misconduct

Garden State Youth Correctional Facility Sr. Correctional Police Officer Scott Keith

Terminated: Yes
Suspended: 65 days
Description: Posted Video on Tiktok threatening staff

Keith was among seven officers at the GSYCF fired in 2021, with another four officers suspended. According to Civil Service Commission records, he was fired after being suspended without pay for 65 days, for posting a video to TikTok on March 7, 2021. He had lip synced the words to a song ”consistent with a TikTok trend known as ‘Sea Shanty,’” which showed “disturbing gestures and violent language,” an August determination said.

Salem County Correctional Facility Officer Shereece Holder

Terminated: Yes
Sustained Offense: 4a:2-2.3 General causes
Description: Officer Holder utilized force against 2 inmates on 2 separate dates with no lawful justification to do so. Officer Holder also neglected to report either incident, thereby covering up her wrongdoing.

Paterson Police Patrolman Spencer Finch

Terminated: Yes
Suspended: 30 days
Sustained Offense: Body Worn Camera -SOP
Description: Officer committed aggravated assault by striking a suspect with an unauthorized flashlight and kneeing the handcuffed suspect in the face. The officer prepared, signed and submitted a police report containing several false or misleading statements. The officer failed to activate his Body Worn Camera.

Finch was fired by the Paterson Police Department in November, stemming from an assault incident in May 2021 that was recorded by another officer’s body camera, as reported by Paterson Press.

Ramsey Police Officer Matthew Rork

Terminated: Yes
Suspended: 180 Days
Sustained Offense: Conduct Unbecoming
Description: Officer Matthew Rork was terminated for Conduct Unbecoming & Violation Sexual Harassment Policy for having improper communication with a party involved in a police investigation.

Middletown Police Sgt Carl Roth

Terminated: Yes
Description: Terminated 06/14/2021 by Civil Order Forfeiture of Public Office

Roth was convicted in February 2020 of leaving the scene of an accident causing injury after fleeing a collision that left a Canadian motorcyclist with a broken leg. That fifth-degree New York felony is equivalent to a similarly named third-degree indictable crime in New Jersey, as reported by Asbury Park Press.

Clayton Police Patrolman Eduardo Diaz

Terminated: Yes
Description: Officer Diaz was terminated for Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer. Officer Diaz used unprofessional police conduct during an arrest of a suspect.

New Providence Police Corporal Michael Hand

Terminated: Yes
Sustained Charge: Intercession
Description: Officer Hand was terminated for conduct unbecoming of a police officer for interfering with a witness in connection with a local disciplinary hearing

State Parole Board - 3 officers fired, 7 suspended

Thomas Lambert
Terminated: Yes
Description: Neglect of duty, serious mistake due to carelessness, conduct unbecoming a public employee and failure to follow verbal/written directives. Settlement Agreement - General Resignation

Jorge Ortega
Terminated: Yes
Description: As part of a plea agreement, Sr. PO Ortega forfeited his public employment by Order entered 2/11/21.

Ortega was accused in 2020 of changing the labels of higher value items at a Target store in North Bergen, police previously said.

Carlos Pimentel
Terminated: Yes
Description: Sr. PO Pimentel was charged with inability to perform duties and conduct unbecoming a public employee due to a Final Restraining Order (FRO) that was issued as a result of a domestic violence proceeding; the officer could not carry a firearm as required by his position. The FNDA was issued on 5/22/19, modified by the ALJ but the CSC reinstated the removal on 6/2/21.

Social media problems

Hopewell Township Officer Sara Erwin
Terminated: Yes
Description: Officer Sara Erwin was found to be in violation of department Rules, Regulations and Procedures for a social media post that occurred while off-duty. Officer was terminated.

Hopewell Township Police Sgt. Mandy Grey
Demoted: Yes
Suspended: 180 Days
Description: Sgt. Mandy Grey was found to be in violation of department Rules, Regulations, and Procedures for a social media post that occurred while off-duty. Officer was demoted from rank of sergeant and received a suspension of 6 months.

Erwin made a Facebook comment in 2020 calling Black Lives Matter supporters “terrorists,"as previously reported by New Jersey 101.5. Gray, who commented on the post, was suspended, while Erwin was fired in 2021.

Mantua Township Police Sgt. Doug Herner

Demoted: Yes
Suspended: 60 Days
Description: Violations of Social Media Policy

Montclair Police Officer William Coad

Description: Ofc. Coad was suspended 20 days for violating the department's Social Media Policy & Procedures; whereby he made inappropriate comments via social media which also touched on his position as a MPD Officer.

Woolwich Township Police Patrolman Dominick Colavita

Colavita was suspended three different times in 2021 — one of them for 15 days for a violation of departmental social media policy.

New Jersey Transit Police

Now-retired Sgt. Melvin Webb was suspended for 30 days in 2021, for “conduct unbecoming and devotion to duty.”

“While on duty, Sgt Webb failed to devote his full time and attention to the interests of the Department,” according to the discipline report.

Webb retired in August. The next month, he was named a co-defendant in a lawsuit accusing him of sexual harassment.

Five NJ Transit police officers allege that he sent “unsolicited pornographic material to colleagues, asked a female officer about the color of her underwear and discussed sexual topics during work meetings,” as reported by NorthJersey.com.

New Jersey Transit Police Officer Kevin O'Brien was suspended for eight days.

“While off duty, Officer O'Brien engaged in a physical altercation. When his weapon became dislodged, it unintentionally discharged,” according to the major discipline report.

As previously reported, prosecutors said O’Brien was involved in a fight on a Belmar porch in August 2019, in which he hit a woman and then fought with some of her relatives, when his gun went off during the brawl. No one was injured by the shot.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

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