CAMDEN, N.J. – The retired chief of the Bordentown Township Police Department was arrested and charged today with committing a hate crime and violating a man’s civil rights by using excessive force during an arrest, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick and FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher announced.
Frank M. Nucera Jr., 60, of Bordentown, New Jersey, was arrested by FBI agents this morning and charged with a hate crime assault and the deprivation of civil rights under color of law. Nucera, who was the township administrator as well as its police chief before he retired earlier this year, will make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio in Camden federal court.
“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,” Acting U.S. Attorney 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.”
“Police officers take an oath to uphold the law. The FBI works to ensure that they are held accountable when they violate that oath and break the law,” SAC in Charge of the Newark FBI Field Office said. “We rely on the police to protect the public. The few who take advantage of that public trust, at any level, will be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Sept. 1, 2016, two Bordentown Township police officers responded to a phone call from the Bordentown Ramada, complaining that two teenagers had stayed in a room at the hotel without paying. The teens were listed in the complaint as “Civilian 1,” an 18-year-old African American man, and “Civilian 2,” a 16-year-old African American girl. After the officers arrived and questioned the teenagers, the situation escalated into a physical confrontation, with both teens attempting to resist arrest. The officers called for backup, and numerous officers, including then-Chief Nucera, arrived on the scene.
After Civilian 1 was handcuffed and was being escorted out of the hotel by police, Nucera allegedly approached him from behind and slammed the man’s head into a metal doorjamb. A subordinate police officer later surreptitiously recorded Nucera making racist and hostile remarks about Civilian 1, Civilian 2, and African Americans more generally. He repeatedly used racial slurs to refer to Civilian 1 and Civilian 2, and said: “[t]hese fucking people” should “[s]tay the fuck out of Bordentown.” He also said it “would have been nice” if officers could have used a police dog during the arrest.
The use of excessive force and hate crime counts with which Nucera is charged each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Molly S. Lorber and Sarah M. Wolfe of the Criminal Division in Trenton.
Defense counsel: Tracy Riley Esq., Mount Holly, New Jersey