A high-ranking police lieutenant from New Jersey has been charged with a series of crimes that have left the law enforcement community reeling. Kevin T. Matthew, a lieutenant with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, stands accused of a shocking betrayal of trust, as he allegedly stole illicit drugs from the very evidence room he was sworn to protect.
State attorney general Matthew J. Platkin, along with the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, announced the charges against Matthew on Tuesday, sending shockwaves through the law enforcement community. The charges include two counts of official misconduct, tampering with public records, structuring financial transactions, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to the investigation conducted by the OPIA’s Corruption Bureau, Matthew, who was a member of the Special Victims Unit, allegedly used his position to search police databases for drug cases. He then proceeded to remove narcotics evidence, including fentanyl and cocaine, from the department’s main evidence vault without authorization. Disturbingly, when he returned the drugs, they were in conditions significantly different from when he initially signed them out.
Witnesses reported seeing Matthew coming and going from the department’s offices, carrying bags large enough to contain the narcotics he had taken. This brazen behavior not only compromised the evidentiary chain of custody but also raised questions about the reliability of the drugs as evidence in criminal prosecutions.
But the alleged misconduct doesn’t stop there. Matthew is also accused of keeping razor blades with cocaine residue in his office, further adding to the mounting evidence against him. Additionally, he is said to have structured cash deposits at various financial institutions to avoid reporting requirements for transactions exceeding $10,000.
The investigation into Matthew’s conduct is ongoing, and the law enforcement community is left grappling with the shocking revelation that one of their own could betray the public trust in such a flagrant manner. State attorney general Matthew J. Platkin expressed his dismay, stating, “As alleged, the defendant’s conduct constitutes a shocking and brazen disregard of the law by a high-ranking officer who was sworn to uphold the law.”
If convicted, Matthew could face severe penalties. The charges of official misconduct carry a sentence of five to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The other charges, including tampering with public records, structuring financial transactions, and possession of a controlled dangerous substance, carry sentences of three to five years in prison and fines of up to $15,000. The possession of drug paraphernalia charge is considered a “disorderly persons offense” and could result in up to six months in prison and a potential $1,000 fine.
This shocking case serves as a stark reminder that even those entrusted with upholding the law can succumb to temptation. As the investigation continues, the law enforcement community and the public at large are left grappling with the fallout of this alleged betrayal.