Longtime officer admits to stealing $11,000

Posted: September 27, 2011 by vindanton in Franklin Twp.

Mayor wants to change landscape

By Vin D’Anton-Rowan University

Officer Frank Gaetano has been under the payroll of Franklin Township and the state of New Jersey for 21 years; he will never receive a check from either for the rest of his life. The 21-year Franklin Township police officer has pleaded guilty to stealing $11,200 dollars last December. How’d he do it? Falsifying time sheets and payroll vouchers. He pleaded guilty and admitted all this on September 2, 2011 according to Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Bernie Weisenfeld. After consultation with the Prosecutor, Weisenfeld said that Gaetano has decided to plead guilty to fourth degree tampering with records and that he could face up to five years probation, however that decision will ultimately be made by Superior Court Judge Walter L. Marshall on October 5, 2011.

Sgt. Jim Ballenger is the detective on the case but declined to comment on the case at this time.

Gaetano will not be allowed to hold a public job in the state of New Jersey for the rest of his life, and will also have to pay $11,202.68 as restitution to the township.   However, Weisenfeld went on to say that the prosecutor’s office will not make a decision on Gaetano’s pension, and that state pension officials will ultimately decide.

It was originally reported that Gaetano would be fired, but the township decided to let him resign, which keeps pension hopes alive.

Mayor Patrick Dougherty is not too happy, and to him it is another black eye on the face of the police station as they search for new leadership. “How did it go on for three years and nobody knew about it? It’s another example of how internally things need to change,” Dougherty said. “You need a fresh face in to shake things up, put things in order, get everybody in line so they are rowing in the same direction.” Former Police Chief Cleo Howe was on terminal leave until August, but then decided to retire in July, and Lt. Mike Rock has been the Officer in Charge since then, as the search was delayed due to Hurricane Irene and Community Day.

“We need an official highest ranking officer there,” the mayor said. “Mike has done a good job,” he said, and then added that Rock has already met with the police department staff three times.

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