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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
March 18, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

John R. Hagerty
(609) 984-1936

 

Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Investigator Charged
with Stealing $$$ from Evidence Vault

Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice Targets Police Corruption

TRENTON - Attorney General Peter C. Harvey announced that the Division of Criminal Justice has charged an Essex County Prosecutor’s Office investigator with breeching his law enforcement duties and responsibilities by stealing money entrusted to him through his position as a crime scene investigator -- monies that should have been secured as evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation.

Attorney General Harvey said the indictment of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office investigator comes in the wake of ongoing investigations by the Division of Criminal Justice targeting police corruption and misconduct by officers in the Newark Police Department. Attorney General Harvey noted that the overwhelming majority of Newark and Essex County police and law enforcement officers serve and protect the public welfare with the goal of making the city and county safe areas in which to live and work.

“This investigation targeted an alleged corrupt law enforcement officer who chose to break the law for his own personal greed,” said Attorney General Harvey. “Law enforcement officers should not steal evidence which then violate the constitutional rights of the citizens whom we are sworn to serve and protect.”

According to Vaughn L. McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice, John J. Cosgrove, 33, Delores Drive, Edison, Middlesex County, was charged via a State Grand Jury indictment with official misconduct, theft of movable property, theft by failure to make required disposition of property received, tampering with evidence, and tampering with public records or information. Cosgrove, assigned as an Investigator with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Crime Scene Unit since 1995, faces up to 20 years in state prison and up to $100,000 in fines upon any conviction.

The State Grand Jury indictment charges that on July, 11, 2002, Cosgrove, in his capacity as an Investigator with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Crime Scene Unit, responded to a homicide scene located at 359 Bloomfield Ave. in Newark. As a crime scene investigator, Cosgrove was required to process, sketch, and/or photograph crime scenes involving homicides, carjackings, police shootings, and other first-degree crimes. The indictment alleges that a large amount of cash was found in the pockets of the deceased victims’ pants by the responding medical examiner and Investigator Cosgrove. A preliminary report determined the amount of cash recovered from the body of the homicide victim - subsequently identified as Dennis “The Grip” Fiore - to be $8,380.

Director McKoy noted that in 2003, the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice - Organized Crime & Racketeering Bureau took control of the Fiore homicide investigation. As part of the ongoing investigation, information was developed regarding the alleged theft of cash from Fiore’s body. The investigation determined that when the Newark Police Department took custody of the Fiore homicide evidence on July 12, the money was not contained in the evidence folder, nor had the cash been entered in the evidence log. The indictment charges that Cosgrove subsequently falsified official police investigation and evidence reports to conceal the theft of the monies.

Attorney General Harvey said that the indictment charging Investigator Cosgrove follows the indictment (Oct. 1, 2004) of two Newark police officers on charges of abusing their office by “shaking-down”and stealing cash and other items from purported drug dealers and the “planting” of drugs on innocent victims to cover the alleged illegal actions. Additionally, the Division of Criminal Justice obtained the indictment (Sept. 29, 2004) of a female Newark police officer on charges of trafficking in illegal drugs and a guilty plea (Sept. 23) from yet another Newark police officer to charges of abusing his office by shaking-down and stealing cash from purported drug dealers.

The investigation was conducted by DSG Jeffrey Kronenfeld and Det. John Pizzurro of the New Jersey State Police Major Crimes Unit and DSFC Joseph Celli and State Investigator Kiersten Petony assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Special Prosecutions Bureau. The prosecution was coordinated by Deputy Attorney General Robert Czepiel of the Division of Criminal Justice - Special Prosecutions Bureau. Additional investigative assistance was provided by the Essex County Prosecutors Office and the Newark Police Department.

A copy of the indictment and related information is available via the Division of Criminal Justice Web page at www.njdcj.org.

An indictment is merely a charge and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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