AG’s Office files theft charges against former Middlesex PBA Prez

The Attorney General’s Office today filed theft charges against the former president of the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Officers’ Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 165 and a second man who is a former state delegate for the union.

Paul Lucarelli, 46, of South River, former president of PBA Local 165, and Mark Papi, 57, of Edison, a former state PBA union delegate representing PBA Local 165, were each charged by complaint-summons with third-degree theft by unlawful taking. 

Lucarelli and Papi both allegedly used PBA Local 165 credit cards to make unauthorized purchases of a personal nature in excess of $500, including, among other things, flights for their significant others to the national PBA convention, hotel stays for Lucarelli and a guest, and fireworks, Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said. It is alleged that none of the expenses were authorized by the PBA members or PBA by-laws, as required, and none of the expenses were reimbursed by the two men.  The investigation into thousands of dollars in alleged personal expenditures made by the two men using union credit cards is continuing. 

The two men surrendered this afternoon to detectives of the State Police Official Corruption Bureau to be processed on the charges.  They were later released on their own recognizance.  Lucarelli served as president of PBA Local 165 for over 15 years.  Papi was a state delegate for the PBA for approximately 20 years, prior to his recent retirement.

Third-degree charges carry a potential sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The complaints are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  Because they are indictable offenses, the charges against the two men will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.

The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.  Deputy Attorneys General Vincent J. Militello, Veronica Allende and Perry Primavera are handling the case for the Division of Criminal Justice.  The lead detectives are Detective Sgt. Fritz Frage, Detective Sgt. Lisa King, Detective Brian Murphy and Detective Patrick Squitieri of the State Police Official Corruption North Unit.

Lucarelli was suspended as a Middlesex County sheriff’s officer as a result of an Aug. 19, 2011 indictment obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice involving former Middlesex County Sheriff Joseph C. Spicuzzo.  Spicuzzo, Lucarelli and former sheriff’s investigator Darrin P. DiBiasi were charged with conspiring in a jobs-for-cash scheme in which Spicuzzo allegedly collected roughly $112,000 in bribes from individuals seeking positions or promotions in the sheriff’s office.  The charges against the three men are pending, and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.