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Three police officers indicted after DUI car accident

After allegedly attempting to cover up a car accident resulting from driving under the influence of alcohol, a grand jury has charged three Hackensack police officers with conspiracy to commit official misconduct.

The charges concern conduct surrounding a car accident that took place in the early morning of June 2, 2010, after one officer left a popular bar on Main Street during off-duty hours. The accident allegedly took place while the officer had been driving along Johnson Avenue.

Sources said the first officer, who was off duty at the time, met with another officer in the parking lot of the bar immediately prior to the accident and then again after the accident. The first officer's vehicle was reportedly damaged and there were apparently clear signs that the officer had been under the influence of alcohol.

According to the Bergen County Prosecutor's office, the second police officer claimed afterward that the accident was a hit-and-run. He didn't report the hit-and-run to police, though, but instead called a third officer, who was on duty, and asked him to come to the scene. The second officer then told the first officer, who was drunk at the time, to drive his vehicle from the scene of the accident to a nearby convenience store parking lot. The second officer- without alerting headquarters to his presence at the scene-left after the third officer arrived at the scene. The third officer eventually reported the incident to headquarters, but said he had been flagged down rather than called by the second officer. Neither the second nor the first officer performed field sobriety tests on the first officer.

Sources said the Bergen County Police were eventually called to direct the investigation due to conflicting accounts of the surrounding circumstances. When questioned about the incident, the second and third officer said the first officer's vehicle had been struck while it was parked. The first officer was also allegedly provided false information to his insurance company concerning the accident, and the company later paid a claim based on the incident.

Each of the officers has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit official misconduct, and the second and third officers were both charged with two counts of official misconduct. The first officer was also charged with insurance fraud.

All the defendants are set to be arraigned in Hackensack Superior Court in the next couple weeks.

Source: northjersey.com, "Three Hackensack police officers indicted," Mark J. Bonamo, 14 April 2011.

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