State Police told to focus on graft

State Police told to focus on graft

November 16, 2006 Star Ledger
Attorney General Stuart Rabner has asked the State Police to join the fight against public cor ruption by having troopers in their organized crime bureau focus on developing cases, tripling the number of investigators sniffing out crooked pols.

"The key to it all is building a more stable base of leads," Rabner said during a sit-down with reporters yesterday in his Hughes Justice Complex office in Trenton. "The first stop for me ... is the State Police."

Currently, fewer than a dozen State Police detectives work with investigators in a corruption unit directed by the Division of Criminal Justice.

But under a plan developed by Rabner and Superintendent Rick Fuentes, the State Police will be given a role similar to what the FBI does in helping make public cor ruption cases for U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.

The initiative focuses on detectives in the State Police's three regional organized crime bureaus using their informants to develop leads that have connections to cor rupt public officials, said Fuentes. Those leads will then be investigated out of the bureaus by State Police detective and Criminal Jus tice Division investigators.

Troopers assigned to street gangs, narcotics and other units also have been told to forward all corruption leads up the chain so they can be given priority, the superintendent said.

"We're going to rely on their investigators to help us and we're absolutely going to rely on their attor neys to make the cases," Fuentes said.

In addition, Rabner said he has asked the State Commission of Investigation, Inspector General's Office and Ethics Commission to alert the Division of Criminal Justice when they have cases that warrant attention.

Rabner also expects to complete a reorganization at the Divi sion of Criminal Justice first announced in April that will bolster the number of attorneys fighting corruption. There is a possibility some of those attorneys could be working directly with the State Police at their regional bureaus, a tac tic Fuentes said has helped make cases in the past.

Rabner said the moves would help change the public's long-held notion that his office cannot compete with the U.S. Attorney's Office in fighting corruption. But he stopped short of promising there would soon be a parade of politicians in handcuffs.

"I would like nothing more than to be able to announce indictments," Rabner said. "Cases take time. You kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. That's the case in (corruption) leads as well."

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