Ex-Bordentown PD chief faces federal hate crime charges
Retired Bordentown Police Chief Frank M. Nucera faces federal charges of committing a hate crime and violating an arrestee's civil rights through use of excessive force.
A conviction on either charge would place him at risk of up to 10 years in prison and a fine as high as $250,000.
Nucera, 60, also Bordentown's former township administrator, was apprehended this morning by FBI agents, according to details from Acting New Jersey U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick and FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher. His initial court appearance takes place in Camden.
The complaint references the arrest of two teens at the Bordentown Ramada on September 1, 2016. Two township officers responded to a complaint from the inn that two teens, an 18- and 16-year-old, used a room without paying.
The teens put up a struggle and resisted arrest,, investigators said. Nucera was among those who responded to the officers' call for backup.
After the older teen was handcuffed and was walked out of the building, Nucera allegedly approached him from behind and slammed his head into a metal door jamb.
That allegedly was followed by a string of angry, racist epithets regarding the suspects, and African-Americans in general, recorded by a subordinate officer without Nucera's knowledge, authorities said.
Nucera is quoted as saying, "[t]hese f***ng people" should "[s]tay the f*** out of Bordentown.," and also that use of a police dog during the arrest "would have been nice."
Fitzpatrick condemned Nucera's alleged behavior, in prepared comments.
"The nobility of police officers is rooted in their selfless commitment to protect our communities and their pledge to honor our constitutional values. As Chief of the Bordentown Township Police Department, the defendant dishonored the profession by doing neither," Fitzpatrick said.
"The complaint alleges that the defendant harbored an intense racial animosity towards African Americans, and on September 1, 2016, that senseless hatred led to the unlawful assault of a handcuffed and defenseless prisoner. The conduct alleged is a shocking breach of the duty of every police officer to provide equal justice under the law and never to mistreat a person in custody. As a result, the former chief of police is now a charged federal criminal defendant."
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina responded:
"We are sickened by the allegations and hateful comments that underlie these charges. There is no place for these sentiments or actions in our society, and they most definitely do not reflect the ideals of the law enforcement community across Burlington County."
"To that point, we are heartened that the FBI’s thorough investigation concluded that this behavior was confined to the individual who has been charged. It is not a reflection of the culture of the Bordentown Township Police Department, its current leadership, or the dedicated officers on the force. In fact, as the Acting U.S. Attorney noted during his press conference, the information leading to these charges was brought forward by individuals within the Bordentown Police Department itself. "
"The Burlington County law enforcement community is filled with honorable people who chose this profession for the right reasons. My Office enjoys working with all of them to serve all residents of our county in a professional, respectful manner.”
Nucera has retained Mount Holly attorney Tracy Riley for his defense. The government's case is led by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Molly S. Lorber and Sarah M. Wolfe.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.
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