Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa has announced that a former Newark police officer was convicted at trial today of official misconduct for conspiring with other officers to steal cash, drugs and weapons from suspected drug dealers and others.
Darius Smith, 40, was convicted by an Essex County jury of conspiracy, official misconduct, and theft. He was acquitted of tampering with public records or information and falsifying records. The verdict followed a three-week trial before Superior Court Judge Peter V. Ryan in Essex County. The second-degree conspiracy to commit official misconduct carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison, the third-degree official misconduct charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and the disorderly persons theft charge carries a maximum term of six months. Judge Ryan scheduled sentencing for Smith for July 13.
“This police officer betrayed the honor of his uniform and badge by using both to commit crimes,” said Chiesa. “By ensuring that the few rogue officers are identified and prosecuted, we protect the many fine officers of the Newark Police Department who put their lives on the line each day. We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who abuse the public trust.”
Smith and another former Newark police officer, Lawrence Furlow, 50, were charged on Oct. 1, 2004 in separate state grand jury indictments. A third Newark officer, Tyrone Dudley, 44, pleaded guilty on Sept. 23, 2004 to third-degree conspiracy to commit official misconduct for conspiring with other officers, including Smith and Furlow, to steal from suspects.
The indictment against Smith charged that between April 2003 and March 2004, he and other Newark officers engaged in criminal acts including official misconduct and theft as part of a conspiracy to steal money from criminal suspects. The jury found that Smith, while on duty in Newark's West District, obtained less than $200 from purported drug dealers, criminal suspects and others by “shaking down” the victims and stealing money, drugs and weapons.
The charges against Furlow are pending and he is scheduled to be tried this month. The indictment against Furlow alleges that between December 2001 and December 2003, Furlow conspired with other officers to steal from criminal suspects and others while on duty in Newark’s West District.
The Newark Police Department suspended Furlow and Smith at the time of the indictments. Smith had been a Newark officer since 1993, and Furlow, since 1996.
The investigation was conducted by Lt. Umar Hakeem and Sgt. William Thomas of the Newark Police Department Internal Affairs Bureau, and Lt. Joseph Waters of the Division of Criminal Justice. Additional detectives and staff from the Newark Police Department and its Internal Affairs Bureau assisted in the investigation.
The Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free Corruption Tipline for the public to report corruption and other illegal activities:1-866-TIPS-4CJ. The public can also log on to the Division Web site at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing. All information received through the tipline or webpage will remain confidential.
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