US Marijuana Party

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Officer guilty of tipping off target of drug raid

August 25, 2005, 11:06 AM EDT

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- A veteran officer in a small, scandal-ridden police department has been found guilty of tipping off the target of a drug raid.

Waterford Township police Sgt. Joseph Chiarulli also was found guilty by a hearing officer of five other charges, including possessing illegal drugs and covering up on-duty sex allegations against another officer. He was cleared of a charge of abusing prescription drugs.

Chiarulli, 44, has been suspended from the Camden County department since last year; he's now likely to be fired.

Since last year, eight of the township's 23 police officers have been taken off duty amid a variety of accusations of wrongdoing, including having sexual liaisons in police cars while on duty.

Chiarulli is the first officer to have his case decided by a hearing officer. Four other hearings, which are closed to the public, are underway. Three officers quit the department instead of going through the hearing process.

Hearing officer Barry Weinberg, a former judge, said while making his ruling Wednesday that Chiarulli's claims of innocence were "not credible."

Chiarulli said he called a man who was to be a target of a drug raid in November 2003, but that it was personal and had nothing to do with the raid.


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