Three Jersey City police officers this week admitted stealing from Jersey City by getting paid for off-duty work they didn’t do, according to officials.
James Cardinali, 38, of Jersey City, Victor Sanchez, 37, of Hasbrouck Heights, and Christopher Ortega, 29, of Brick, all plead guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit fraud, officials said.
According to the evidence, 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, according to authorities.
The three cops are among five who have pleaded guilty in the federal probe of the jobs program, which allows officers to work off duty as private security or traffic managers.
The five men have admitted allowing companies to operate work sites without officers present; approving and submitting phony pay vouchers for work officers never performed and accepting cash from private companies and fellow cops in exchange for their participation in the scheme.
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, officials said.
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, officials said.
All three officers face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
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.