(STL.News) – A Jersey City police officer today admitted to conspiring to defraud Jersey City by obtaining compensation for off-duty work that she did not perform, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Gicella Sanchez, 36, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge John M. Vazquez to an information charging her with one count of conspiracy to defraud a local government receiving federal funds.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Private contractors and businesses sometimes needed to use the services of off-duty Jersey City police officers for certain projects, including work within Jersey City that could obstruct the flow of traffic. The off-duty assignments were made by a Jersey City Police Department-designated coordinator for the district in which the assignment was to be carried out. Officers receiving these off-duty assignments were required to complete and provide to the coordinator a voucher that indicated, among other things, the hours worked on particular off-duty assignments.
From November 2014 through June 2016, Sanchez conspired with another Jersey City police officer who was authorized to assign off-duty work and sign vouchers. That officer – with Sanchez’s knowledge and consent – submitted phony vouchers to Jersey City indicating that Sanchez had completed certain off-duty assignments that she never actually performed. In other instances, Sanchez showed up to off-duty job sites, but left before her shift ended. As a result, Sanchez accepted thousands of dollars for off-duty work that she never performed.
Sanchez faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. As part of her plea agreement, Sanchez must forfeit $9,095 in criminal proceeds she received from her role in the scheme and pay restitution of $2,490. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2021.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The Jersey City Police Department is cooperating with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Daniel J. Welsh Esq., Jersey City