|TRENTON - Attorney Christopher S. Porrino announced that a retired police officer who formerly served as president and state delegate of New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 59 in Cape May pleaded guilty today to embezzling large sums from the union over a period of five years. The state’s investigation revealed that he stole approximately $105,000.
John Campbell, 48, of Cape May, a retired Cape May police officer, pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree theft by unlawful taking before Superior Court Judge John C. Porto in Cape May County. In pleading guilty, he admitted that he stole tens of thousands of dollars from PBA Local 59 from 2012 through 2016, while serving as the state delegate for the union, by using the union’s checking account and a business American Express card to make unauthorized personal purchases, expenditures and withdrawals that were unrelated to union business. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Campbell be sentenced to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of a term of probation. He must pay $105,000 in restitution to the union and faces a potential criminal fine of up to $15,000. Judge Porto scheduled sentencing for Campbell for Nov. 17.
Campbell was initially arrested on July 13 as a result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis prosecuted the case and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Anthony Picione.
“Campbell was entrusted with access to the credit and checking accounts of his PBA local, but rather than living up to his duties as a police officer and leader of this union, he corruptly chose to embezzle over $100,000,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This was a crass betrayal by a man who took an oath to uphold the law.”
“This guilty plea should deter others in positions of trust who might consider stealing from the organizations and people they are appointed to serve,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work closely with the New Jersey State Police to investigate and prosecute corruption aggressively.”
“Campbell chose to selfishly lavish himself with gifts, trips, jewelry and electronics with more than $100,000 of stolen union funds, which are often diverted to charitable organizations that help our communities,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Citizens can take solace in the fact that the law enforcement community that Campbell was once a part of, but since betrayed, has held him accountable for his actions.”
While serving as the local PBA’s state delegate from 2012 through 2016, Campbell used credit and debit cards issued to him by the union, and paid for with union funds, for a variety of unauthorized personal expenses unrelated to union business, ranging from modest purchases at convenience stores and gas stations to more exorbitant purchases involving time shares and home improvements.
Campbell’s thefts came to light after a change in leadership of PBA Local 59 in July 2016, when an audit was conducted and suspicious credit and debit card charges were discovered. The information was referred to the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, which in turn referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice and New Jersey State Police.
The investigation revealed that Campbell made more than $70,000 in unauthorized personal expenditures through the American Express account alone, including, for example:
- over $30,000 for time shares in Florida, the Caribbean and Mexico;
- over $16,000 for utilities and services, including gas, electric, telephone and TV services;
- over $5,000 for clothing and jewelry purchases;
- over $7,500 for purchases of electronics, furniture and cabinets;
- approximately $5,000 on various convenience store and gas station purchases; and
- a $500 designer Christmas tree.
He used the PBA debit card to make additional personal purchases and obtained approximately $9,700 for his personal use through debit and ATM withdrawals, as well as unauthorized checks.
Attorney General Porrino commended all of the members of the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau who worked on the investigation.
Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free Corruption Tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to confidentially report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. The public also can log on to the Division’s web page at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.
Joseph J. Rodgers, Esq., Wildwood Crest, N.J.
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