By Anthony J. Machcinski
NORTH ARLINGTON –
When Police Officer Paul Casale reported for his normal work shift on May 1, he was greeted by fellow cops who promptly put him under arrest.
Casale, 24, was charged with one count of theft and one count of criminal trespass when he walked in for work at 2 p.m. on May 1.
Casale, who dad is a lieutenant with the Newark P.D., was suspended without pay pending the resolution of criminal and administrative charges.
“Obviously, it’s not a good thing for anyone at all – the victims, community, or the police department,” North Arlington Police Capt. John Hearn, operations commander, said last week.
Police said the two crimes occurred at the same 2-family Biltmore St. residence on April 22 and 28.
In the first incident, on April 22, Casale was investigating a heating complaint by the resident. Later, the reported that seven rings valued at $4,500 were missing from her residence after Casale’s departure from the residence.
On April 28, the homeowner told police that Casale – whom she observed in her living room – had allegedly entered her residence without authorization.
Police Chief Louis Ghione said that after the incidents were reported, North Arlington P.D.’s Internal Affairs unit immediately started an investigation and contacted the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Offi ce, which provided assistance and oversight. The investigation led to Casale’s arrest.
Originally a member of the Newark Police Department, Casale was hired by North Arlington with an annual salary of $52,000 in January 2011 after being laid off by Newark, as permitted under the so-called Rice bill.
“It’s very disappointing,” said North Arlington Borough Council President Richard Hughes. “He was here a little over a year and always acted as a gentleman. He always went out of his way.”
According to Hearn, Casale had no prior criminal record, with Newark or with North Arlington. When he was hired, Casale’s background was screened by North Arlington P.D.
“We didn’t want to just go off of Newark’s word,” Hughes said, “so we gave him a second background check.”
Asked whether Casale had been linked to any other North Arlington thefts or burglaries, Hearn said: “At this point, it’s just this case, but there is an ongoing investigation.”
Hearn said that Casale has retained counsel.