Cops uncharged in FBI off-duty probe paid $1 million on suspension
Despite not being charged, JCPD officers Jonathan Hernandez, David Leon, Gicella Sanchez, Melissa Sanchez, and Alexander Vilas have been on paid suspension for over two years due to their alleged involvement in off-duty corruption – costing taxpayers over approximately $1,000,000.
If the 1991 University of Michigan men’s basketball recruiting class was known as the Fab Five, a group of Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) officers suspended from work due to a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe should now be known as the Forgotten Five.
Sources say the Forgotten Five – JCPD officers Jonathan Hernandez, David Leon, Gicella Sanchez, Melissa Sanchez, and Alexander Vilas – have been on paid suspension for over two years due to the FBI’s investigation of “pickmaster corruption” within the police off-duty jobs program.
Jersey City spokesperson Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione did not respond to an email confirming or denying that statement. If true, the Forgotten Five would’ve cost taxpayers over approximately $1,000,000 based on city payroll as of March 2019.
According to records obtained via the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), the yearly salaries of the officers are – Hernandez ($93,010), Leon ($107,108), Gicella Sanchez ($105,087), Melissa Sanchez ($109,129), and Vilas ($109,129).
When news of the FBI’s investigation was first reported by The Jersey Journal, the Forgotten Five were identified with seven other officers that were also put on modified duty back in January 2017. Unlike the other seven that were ultimately charged & convicted, the Forgotten Five remain uncharged by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) for their roles related to the off-duty conspiracy.
In late October 2018, when ex-JCPD cop Juan Berrios was sentenced for his role in the off-duty jobs program, Terrence McDonald reported that:
It remains unclear whether federal prosecutors have wrapped up their investigation. All 11 cops who have pleaded guilty have been sentenced, except for one who died before his sentencing date. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, whose office oversaw the probe, said he does not typically comment on the status of an investigation.
Furthermore, rumors have swirled that some, if not all, of the Forgotten Five have found second full-time jobs while on suspension. One JCPD source said the suspended cops should be placed on modified duty, stating “why don’t they put them down in the property room under the supervision of Lt. Iris Cruz, because it’s brutal in there.”
Whether the Forgotten Five are ultimately charged by federal prosecutors or not, it’s probably time for those officers to start providing a service to taxpayers – just like provisional Deputy Chief Nicola Flora.
VIDEO BELOW: Ex-JCPD cop Juan Berrios talks off-duty corruption before prison