The State Police Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau today obtained an 11-count indictment against former Middlesex County Sheriff Joseph C. Spicuzzo and two men who worked under him in the sheriff’s office.
The charges specify how Spicuzzo, 66, of Helmetta, and the others allegedly conspired in a jobs-for-cash scheme in which Spicuzzo collected approximately $112,000 in bribes from individuals seeking positions or promotions in the sheriff’s office.
Spicuzzo; Darrin P. DiBiasi, 43, of Monmouth Junction, who is a former Middlesex County sheriff’s investigator; and Paul A. Lucarelli, 46, of South River, a suspended Middlesex County sheriff’s officer, are charged with various counts of conspiracy, official misconduct and bribery, all second-degree offenses.
The indictment states that Spicuzzo is also charged with second-degree pattern of official misconduct.
All of the charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison, and certain charges against each defendant carry a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison without possibility of parole.
“This indictment demonstrates that nobody is above the law in New Jersey, and those who hold high office will be held accountable if they betray the public’s trust,” said Attorney General Paula Dow. “It is an important step in our prosecution of Spicuzzo and his alleged accomplices.”
“Most members of law enforcement consider their badge and honor sacred, but we allege that Spicuzzo put badges and honor up for sale in the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office,” said Director Stephen Taylor. “We allege that this corrupt jobs-for-cash scheme continued for over a decade.”
A former Middlesex County Democratic Party chairman, Spicuzzo turned himself in to state police on March 7.
According to the indictment, between March 1996 and November 2008, Spicuzzo in his role as sheriff demanded that eight different individuals pay him bribes in return for him appointing them as new sheriff’s investigators or promoting them within the sheriff’s office.
“The state’s investigation revealed that young applicants who were trying to obtain law enforcement positions as investigators were forced to use all sources of funding available to them to pay the alleged bribes,” according to a release from the attorney general’s office
Spicuzzo allegedly solicited and accepted individual bribes ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 from seven individuals seeking to be hired as investigators. “Those individuals include DiBiasi, who allegedly paid a $5,000 bribe prior to being hired in 1999. It is alleged that Spicuzzo also took two bribes from a sheriff’s officer in the amounts of $7,000 and $5,000 in return for two promotions within the sheriff’s office between 2007 and 2008. It is alleged that each person who paid a bribe was given the promised position,” the release said.
The indictment alleges that DiBiasi and Lucarelli conspired with Spicuzzo in the jobs-for-cash scheme, which continued throughout the period covered by the indictment. DiBiasi allegedly collected three bribes from individuals seeking investigator positions and delivered them to Spicuzzo between 2002 and 2005, including two bribes of approximately $12,500 and one bribe of approximately $10,000. “It is alleged that Lucarelli collected a bribe of approximately $25,000 from an individual seeking an investigator position and delivered it to Spicuzzo in 2008.”