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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Three Jersey City Police Officers Admit Conspiracy To Commit Fraud

NEWARK, N.J. – Three Jersey City police officers today admitted participating in a conspiracy to defraud Jersey City by obtaining compensation for off-duty work that they did not perform, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced. 

James Cardinali, 38, of Jersey City, Victor Sanchez, 37, of Hasbrouck Heights, and Christopher Ortega, 29, of Brick, all pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark federal court to separate informations charging them with one count each of conspiracy to commit fraud.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Cardinali’s duties included serving as the “pick coordinator” for Jersey City’s South District, responsible for assigning police officers to off-duty details. On multiple occasions, Cardinali asked representatives of certain vendors who were performing work in the South District to sign Jersey City off-duty vouchers indicating that a police officer had completed an off-duty assignment for that vendor, even though no officer had in fact completed any assignment. Cardinali then falsely represented on these vouchers that a particular police officer had completed an off-duty assignment. These officers were paid for work they did not perform. Cardinali personally obtained from the officers some of the money that they were paid as a result of the fraudulent conduct.

Sanchez and Ortega defrauded Jersey City by consenting to the submission of false and fraudulent off-duty vouchers to Jersey City indicating that they had completed certain off-duty assignments that they had not, in fact, completed. Both were paid by the city for off-duty assignments that they did not actually complete. 

All three officers face a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Cardinali is required to forfeit the $39,587; Sanchez is required to forfeit $21,583; and Ortega is required to forfeit $18,336.  Sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for Nov. 6, 2017.

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. The Jersey City Police Department is cooperating with the investigation.   

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

Defense counsel:
Cardinali: Matthew E. Beck Esq., West Orange, New Jersey
Sanchez: Joel Silberman Esq., Jersey City, New Jersey
Ortega: Henry Klingeman Esq., Newark, New Jersey

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 
Updated July 25, 2017