Prosecutor Esther Suarez is tough on marijuana, soft on corrupt cops and public officials

Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez is tough on marijuana, but has been empathetic towards corrupt law enforcement officers and public officials.

Prosecutor Esther Suarez and corrupt Jersey City cops – ex-Chief Philip Zacche, Vincent Corso and Jeff Rodriguez (left to right).

The laughable concerns raised by state Sen. Ron Rice (D-28) regarding commercialization of “sex toys and oils with marijuana” due to cannabis legalization has created a lot of buzz, yet his blunt opinion on the matter isn’t something the public should be highly concerned about. Rather, it’s Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez’s chronicled record of social injustice that’s much more alarming.

According to the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General (NJAG), Suarez and Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal met with Jersey City officials this past week to discuss the recent memo issued by Chief Municipal Prosecutor Jacob Hudnut purporting to decriminalize marijuana.

The meeting ended with the attorney general agreeing to ask that municipal prosecutors statewide adjourn all marijuana-related offenses in municipal court until September 4, 2018, in order to provide time to develop a guidance. Fulop essentially used the meeting to claim victory on an inevitable directive that allows municipal prosecutors to decimalize marijuana, which Grewal’s office characterized as inaccurate.

Of note, between the NJAG press release, various media reports, and the chatter of multiple sources, it’s clear that the memo – including the timing of its release and policy directive – has stoked tensions between both Grewal and Suarez versus the tag team of Hudnut and Mayor Steven Fulop.

As reported by NJ Advance Media, during the meeting “Hudson County prosecutor Suarez argued for a more hard-line approach [to marijuana enforcement], according to a source familiar with the talks.” In line with a recent Jersey Journal interview, this wasn’t the first time Suarez has talked tough on marijuana:

Citing concerns of how legal marijuana, including edibles, will affect the state’s children and the “difficulties” it will pose for law enforcement, Suarez said she is not in favor of legalization.

“I’m more concerned with how it impacts the kids. And I think the fact that kids are seeing adults use it and they know it’s going to be legal, and they’re just like, ‘It’s gonna be legal, what’s the difference?'” Suarez said during an extensive interview with The Jersey Journal last month.

“I don’t think they understand the consequences of it, I’m concerned about them getting into a car while they’re under the influence of it.”

With the New Jersey legislature set to pass a marijuana reform bill that will keep the underground market thriving, mostly through regulation and taxation, Suarez’s inclination to be tough on weed is more relevant over the long-term than Hudnut’s memo.

To the best of my knowledge, legalization in New Jersey doesn’t mean you can freely travel with pounds of marijuana in your car. As an across the board anti-War on Drugs advocate, I hope those cases face the soft hand of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO).

The soft hand of the HCPO that pampered ex-Chief Phil Zacche. So soft they exonerated Zacche for stealing time he was later convicted for by federal authorities. A hand so soft, so convinced of his innocence, that Suarez showed up to the retirement party and posted a picture thanking him for his service – which included a $500,000 retirement payment for unused days.

Or how about Suarez and ex-Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) officer Jeff Rodriguez? Numerous sources have identified Rodriguez, a former pick coordinator in the department’s West District, as the U.S. Department of Justice’s top witness in their case against the first round of officers arrested due to a federal probe of the JCPD.

The former president of the Hispanic American Law Enforcement Association (HALEA), Rodriguez awarded Suarez with the group’s Trailblazer award – which was also posted to the HCPO’s social media. It’s believed by this journalist that Suarez was too focused on prosecuting female whistleblowers to investigate corrupt cops, which benefited Rodriguez prior to federal intervention.

Esther Suarez HALEA Trailblazer award.

Law enforcement sources, knowledgeable of HALEA’s history, told Real Jersey City that many believe Rodriguez embezzled funds from the organization. Another source added that Rodriguez rewarded non-Latino officers that bought HALEA memberships with preferred off-duty job picks in the JCPD West District.

Also, how can I forget The Man, The Myth, The JCPD Legend – Lt. Vincent Corso.

Simply put, it’s a slap in the face to the black community that Suarez had multiple opportunities to take action against Corso and did absolutely nothing. You know black lives don’t matter to Suarez when Corso, the 1st VP of the Jersey City Police Superior Officers Associations (JCPSOA), is allowed to be a reckless danger to the community and get promoted to lieutenant.

For a prosecutor concerned about teenagers “getting into a car while they’re under the influence” of marijuana, she sure doesn’t care about cops known to drive reckless being held accountable for their behavior. She had the opportunity when then-Sgt. Vincent Corso was sleeping in the back of Lincoln Park, in a police vehicle, but found empathy with the drunk, killer cop taking a nap on the job.

HCPO Vincent Corso Letter

Because he’s a police union official, Suarez gave him the soft hand – essentially coddling Corso and telling him I’ll always protect you. Whether it’s Zacche (chief), Rodriguez (political), or Corso (union official), it’s obvious that Suarez has empathy in her heart for corrupt and politically connected cops.

Bless Suarez and the HCPO, they even found it in their hearts to let former Ward B City Councilman Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal off-the-hook for theft of services with a slap on the wrist. It’s possible the empathetic prosecutor didn’t want to stress other no-show employees in the Hudson County Improvement Authority by pursuing a full-fledged investigation, or maybe Chico was the only one stealing time…

Regardless, I doubt Suarez would show the common man, busted with a few ounces of marijuana, the soft hand like the previously mentioned cops. If her record was soft on marijuana and tough on corrupt cops, there wouldn’t be a need for Suarez – plus Peter Stoma and Gene Rubino – to be removed from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

Instead, there would be a prosecutor concerned about honor, integrity, respect and service to the people of Jersey City and Hudson County.

One comment

  • Michael, I was a police officer for 26 yrs in the North District from 1988 until 2014 . I worked in patrol my entire police career in the North.. I just want to say that Phil Zacche has a huge heart and helped so many people since I’ve known him.

Leave a Reply