November 21,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

TRENTON NJ, Attorney Christopher S. Porrino announced that a retired police officer who formerly served as president and state delegate of New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 59 in Cape May was sentenced today for embezzling large sums from the union over a period of five years. The state’s investigation revealed that he stole approximately $105,000.

John Campbell, 49, of Cape May, a retired Cape May police officer, was sentenced to six months of home detention under the county’s alternatives to incarceration program, including electronic monitoring with an ankle bracelet, and five years of probation by Superior Court Judge John Porto in Cape May County. He also was ordered to serve 300 hours of community service, pay a fine of $5,000 and provide full restitution to the union of $105,000, which was paid in full today. Campbell pleaded guilty on Aug. 10 to a charge of third-degree theft by unlawful taking. In pleading guilty, Campbell admitted that he stole tens of thousands of dollars from PBA Local 59 from 2012 through 2016, while serving as the state delegate for the union, by using the union’s checking account and a business American Express card to make unauthorized personal purchases, expenditures and withdrawals that were unrelated to union business.

Campbell was initially arrested on July 13 as a result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis prosecuted the case and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Anthony Picione.

“Campbell was entrusted with access to the credit and checking accounts of his PBA local, but rather than living up to his duties as a police officer and leader of this union, he corruptly chose to embezzle over $100,000,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This was a crass betrayal by a man who took an oath to uphold the law.”

“We have zero tolerance for people who use their positions of trust to steal from the organizations and people they were appointed to serve,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work closely with the New Jersey State Police to investigate and prosecute corruption aggressively.”

“Campbell made the decision to betray the trust of not only his fellow law enforcement officers but also the community which should have benefited from the funds he absconded with,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The consequences of his actions should serve as reminder that no one should consider themselves above the law.”

While serving as the local PBA’s state delegate from 2012 through 2016, Campbell used credit and debit cards issued to him by the union, and paid for with union funds, for a variety of unauthorized personal expenses unrelated to union business, ranging from modest purchases at convenience stores and gas stations to more exorbitant purchases involving time shares and home improvements.

Campbell’s thefts came to light after a change in leadership of PBA Local 59 in July 2016, when an audit was conducted and suspicious credit and debit card charges were discovered. The information was referred to the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, which in turn referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice and New Jersey State Police.

The investigation revealed that Campbell made more than $70,000 in unauthorized personal expenditures through the American Express account alone, including, for example:

over $30,000 for time shares in Florida, the Caribbean and Mexico;
over $16,000 for utilities and services, including gas, electric, telephone and TV services;
over $5,000 for clothing and jewelry purchases;
over $7,500 for purchases of electronics, furniture and cabinets;
approximately $5,000 on various convenience store and gas station purchases; and
a $500 designer Christmas tree.

He used the PBA debit card to make additional personal purchases and obtained approximately $9,700 for his personal use through debit and ATM withdrawals, as well as unauthorized checks.

Attorney General Porrino commended all of the members of the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau who worked on the investigation.

As a result of the investigation, additional alleged thefts were discovered that led to a charge against a second official of PBA Local 59, former treasurer Kyle Grossman, 39, of Lower Township, N.J. Grossman, who also was a Cape May police officer, was charged by accusation on Oct. 12 with third-degree theft by unlawful taking for allegedly stealing approximately $5,000 in union funds for his personal use. He waived indictment on that date, agreed to pay $5,000 in restitution, and forfeited his job as a police officer. He was admitted by Judge Porto into the Pre-Trial Intervention program. The charge against him will be dismissed if he successfully completes the program. Grossman agreed to enter a consent order under which he will be permanently barred from public employment.

Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free Corruption Tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to confidentially report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. The public also can log on to the Division’s web page at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.