12th Jersey City officer pleads guilty in off-duty jobs scam

A Jersey City police officer’s own cellphone provided evidence against her in a no-show off-duty jobs scam that also has involved nearly a dozen other officers, the U.S. attorney’s office said Tuesday.

Officer Gicella Sanchez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud a local government receiving federal funds. She became the 12th city officer to plead guilty to similar charges stemming from an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office. Four of the officers have received prison terms.

Between November 2014 and June 2016, Sanchez was paid thousands of dollars for work she didn’t perform or for shifts she started but didn’t complete. Another officer authorized to make work assignments and sign vouchers created phony vouchers with Sanchez’s knowledge, according to authorities.

According to documents filed in the case, investigators used evidence from Sanchez’s cellphone to show she wasn’t at job sites when she was supposed to be working — including a photo of Sanchez and a relative taken at a restaurant.

In one text, Sanchez told a co-worker she hadn’t gotten a job that day but had made her co-conspirator “give me a no-show one.”

Sanchez faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when she’s sentenced in February. She also will have to forfeit more than $9,000 earned from the scheme and pay restitution of about $2,500.

In an emailed statement, city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said, “Today’s guilty plea reaffirms that Mayor Steven Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea made the right decision in ending the police off-duty job program several years ago. This was a program that was filled with corruption for decades prior, and it didn’t reflect the values of our city.”

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