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DV Pilot Police & Fire

Authorities: Lawrence Police Had Secret Park Rendezvous Violating COVID-19 Order

Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park
Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Three Lawrence Township police officers have been charged with falsifying records and deceptive conduct, authorities said.

Two of the police officers also violated Gov. Phil Murphy's ban on being in a state park during the coronavirus outbreak, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri said in a statement.

Two officers had secret rendezvous in New Jersey Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park and concealed their meetings by altering the patrol cars video camera, Onofri said. 

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office was contacted by Lawrence Township police earlier this month regarding three officers' "intentional misrepresentations of their actual locations, which included falsifying reports and records," he said.

One of the officers also is accused of altering his patrol car video recorder, the prosecutor said, adding "These officers allowed their purely personal interests to infect the proper performance of their legal obligations as police officers."

All three officers have been suspended without pay. They were served summons complaints on Thursday, according to the prosecutor's office, on these charges: 

  • Lawrence Police Officer Hector Nieves, 44, for falsifying government records, tampering with records and violating the Governor’s Executive Order No. 118 which had banned the public from using state parks during the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • Officer Liubove Bjorklund, 32, for falsifying government records and violating the state's COVID-19 order. 
  • And Officer Timothy Wallace, 28, for falsifying government records. 

Nieves falsely documented his location 19 times between March 21 and May 11,  Onofri said, and violated the governor's order by entering the New Jersey Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park in Princeton on April 23 while the park was closed -- unrelated to his police job duties.

"It was also discovered that, on multiple occasions, Nieves altered the view of the camera in his assigned patrol vehicle so that it did not capture him covertly meeting with an off-duty female police officer,'' Onofri said.

In one incident, the camera’s position was adjusted so that it would not record Nieves and the off-duty officer meeting or entering the closed park, thereby concealing the unlawful conduct, he said. 

Officer Bjorklund falsified her location in meal break documents 11 times between March 20 and May 4, the prosecutor said. She also violated Murphy's order by entering the state park on April 23 when the Princeton park was closed due COVID-19 "for a purpose unrelated to any official function or capacity," Onofri said. 

And Wallace falsely documented his location in a report on May 4. He was not accused of violating the COVID-19 order.

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