NJ police worker accused of post-Sandy theft

Marcella Friedman

January 15, 2013 2:48:01 PM PST
New Jersey authorities say a civilian employee of the state police posed as an inspector last year to coerce two men from South Carolina into giving her a generator they were selling in the days after Superstorm Sandy.

Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa says Marcella Friedman faces a theft by deception charge. It stems from an investigation by the state police official corruption bureau and the Division of Criminal Justice's corruption bureau, which will prosecute the case.

The 49-year-old Oaklyn resident allegedly confronted the men on Oct. 31 as they sold generators at a roadside location in Springfield, Burlington County. Friedman, who is communications systems technician, was wearing a field jacket with the state police logo and carrying a handheld police radio.

Friedman allegedly claimed she had authority to regulate vendors and shut down those without a permit. Authorities say she threatened to fine the men and confiscate their merchandise, but then said she would allow them to continue selling generators if they gave her one for free.

The two men gave Friedman an 8,500-watt generator, which authorities say she gave to a relative who then sold it to an unknowing third party.

Friedman was on disability leave at the time and remains on that leave, authorities said. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted, and it was not known if she has retained an attorney.

A phone number for Friedman could not be located Tuesday.