Monday, March 21, 2011

Elizabeth Police Officer Accused Of Stopping Immigrants And Threatening Them With Calling ICE

According to a March 17, 2011 press release from the Union County Prosecutor's Office in New Jersey, a police officer in the Elizabeth, NJ Police Department was accused of making unjustified stops of cars driven by Latino men, questioning them about their immigration status, and threatening to report them to the immigration authorities unless they paid him money. The accusations are that the police officer did it while on duty.

According to the office of the Union County Prosecutor, Theodore J. Romankow, the officer (Rocco Malgieri) received payments from $100 to $150 from at least seven immigrants. The charges include second degree theft by extortion and third degree bribery. Keep in mind that accusations are not findings of guilt. On the contrary, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless they are proven guilty.

If the accusations turn out to be true, it suggests a disturbing scenario where immigrants in New Jersey are victims of racial profiling, of illegal stops by local police, and of being threatened in order to hand over illegal payments to police officers.

The prosecutor's office urges people with information to call them. Immigrants who are victims should be careful to explore the possibilities of cooperating, including whether they might be threatened with deportation as a result of trying to help the police and whether they qualify for certain specific protections from deportation as a victim of a crime.