A New Jersey judge has dismissed a criminal indictment against Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler.
Passaic County Superior Court Judge Marilyn Clark issued a 56-page decision on Nov. 2, dismissing charges that the chief had conspired to commit misconduct, and committed misconduct and corruption of public resources.
The charges were brought in March 2021, as Kugler announced his candidacy to run for Bergen County Sheriff. The charges alleged that Chief Kugler ordered on-duty police officers under his control to escort funeral processions from his family owned funeral home (Kugler Funeral Home) in Saddle Brook.
The state alleged that a Saddle Brook Township ordinance adopted in 1978 prohibited police escorts of any kind but the Judge ruled strongly in favor of Kugler’s argument that the ordinance the state relied on had all to do with providing local town business owners rides in the police car to banks to make money deposits and did not apply to funeral escorts at all.
The Judge also found that the state presentment of the matter to the grand jury left out other relevant and critical exculpatory information for the jurors to consider before rendering a decision to indict or not.
The indictment dismissal clears the way for the suspended police chief to re-claim his position as chief, a position he has held for nearly 28 years.
Kugler praised his attorney. ”I’m extremely grateful of John Bruno Jr. and his legal team for their very thorough and exhausting fact-driven legal briefs which proved our position that no violation of law or otherwise was committed,” he said in a statement.
He added, “Although I am extremely disappointed by what my family and I had to endure in this matter over the past 18 months, the disappointment is now overshadowed by looking forward to returning to serve the community of Saddle brook as their chief of police, a position that I have served in since 1995.”
The New Jersey Monitor reports that as a result of Judge Clark’s ruling in the Kugler case, New Jersey State Senator Joe Cryan has called for a review of the state Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability Unit saying “The office has acted unethically on a consistent basis and needs to be reviewed, if not by a peer agency, then by someone else”.