Acting-Chief Miller brings ‘Forgotten Five’ back to work following Real Jersey City report
Sources say acting-JCPD Chief Mark Miller is bringing back the Forgotten Five to work modified duty, weeks after Real Jersey City reported that the five cops on paid suspension for over two years – due to the FBI’s off-duty jobs investigation, but never charged – had been paid more than $1,000,000.
On July 24, 2019, Real Jersey City reported that the Forgotten Five – Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) officers Jonathan Hernandez, David Leon, Gicella Sanchez, Melissa Sanchez, and Alexander Vilas – had earned more than $1,000,000 on paid suspension for over two years due to the FBI’s investigation of the police off-duty jobs program.
In a stunning turn of events, acting-JCPD Chief Mark Miller met with the Forgotten Five on Friday and will be bringing them back – possibly as early as tomorrow – to work modified duty, according to sources. It’s not clear where the officers will be assigned, but it’s believed they’ll be placed in the radio room.
For whatever reason (lack of evidence, never actually targets, etc.), the officers were never charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ), yet it remains to be seen whether they will face an Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) investigation and departmental charges. The Forgotten Five were initially put on paid suspension back in May 2017, a decision supposedly made by Public Safety Director James Shea.
Now that they’re back to work, the situation of officers Melissa Sanchez and Alexander Vilas should be intriguing – given that they were passed over for promotion to sergeant while on paid suspension. For reference, Nicola “Nick” Flora – also under FBI investigation, but never charged – was promoted from captain to provisional-Deputy Chief while on modified duty. Whether Melissa Sanchez and Vilas receive the same treatment as Flora remains to be seen.
Furthermore, Miller leading the decision to bring back the Forgotten Five while Chief Michael Kelly is out “until further notice” will likely add to the speculation around Kelly’s job status. The major personnel decision by Miller comes on the heels of video from the infamous Reed St. incident – an event which has haunted Kelly’s reputation ever since – surfacing a decade later amid internal disputes.
Reed St., Jersey City shooting (7-16-09) – VIDEO BELOW:
Of note, according to sources, the long-standing issue for the Forgotten Five was that JCPD leadership wanted the USDOJ to write a letter stating the officers would not be charged – something federal prosecutors were apparently unwilling to do.
Of interest, Miller not only oversees JCPD IAU, and has worked in the unit for a long time, but he also served as the liaison to the FBI during the time of the off-duty jobs investigation. It’s a possibility that, for him to make the decision as acting chief, Miller might know a little bit more about the situation than Shea & Kelly.
Jersey City Spokesperson Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione did not respond to an email seeking comment on this story.