Two New Jersey State Police troopers who allegedly led a high-speed escort for members of a luxury car club in March will face criminal charges, the State Attorney General announced Friday.
Four troopers face disciplinary charges in connection with the improper State Police escort involving similar vehicles in 2010. In a third case, disciplinary charges were announced for a trooper who improperly handled a traffic ticket issued to a member of a driving club who was stopped for speeding on the Garden State Parkway in his Lamborghini in 2010.
"The conduct alleged here jeopardized public safety and undermined the trust the public places in law enforcement and the State Police," said Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa. "Serious misconduct by any state trooper must be met with serious discipline and, where warranted and appropriate, criminal charges."
The State Police also announced a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for troopers governing escorts that's "designed to enhance the safety of motorists," according to a release.
"Clearly, there is no double standard for troopers," said Colonel Rick Fuentes, state police superintendent.
Sgt. First Class Nadir Nassry, 47, a trooper for 25 years who allegedly led the March 30 caravan and enlisted the other trooper in the unauthorized escort, was charged with third-degree tampering with public records or information and fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records. Trooper Joseph Ventrella, 28, who has six years of service, was charged with fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records.
Both troopers allegedly altered their license plates by using black electrical tape to change the numbers on the plates. Nassry also allegedly instructed the other drivers in the caravan to conceal or partially conceal their plates using tape or other means.
Nassry and Ventrella were suspended without pay commencing on April 23. If convicted of the criminal charges, both Nassry and Ventrella would forfeit their jobs and would be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.
Disciplinary actions against the two troopers who led the June 27, 2010, escort have resulted in administrative charges being filed against both troopers for improper conduct of an escort and unsafe driving. In addition, administrative charges were filed against two supervisors in this case for improper supervision.
The Jan. 17, 2010, case involving the Lamborghini driver, who was issued a ticket for driving 116 m.p.h. in a 65 m.p.h. zone on the Garden State Parkway in Paramus, resulted in disciplinary charges against the trooper involved for improper conduct related to the stop and his handling of the ticket.
The five troopers who have been charged administratively face unpaid suspensions.
The new S.O.P. outlines when police escorts can be authorized; lists factors to be considered when authorizing an escort; identifies the chain of command and specific proceedures for authorizing an escort; and provides guidance about how escorts should be conducted, including clear instructions on observing posted speed limits and avoiding use of passing lanes.