Photo: Officer Rocco Malgieri
Officer Rocco Malgieri would drive around seeking a victim for his next shakedown. The 19-year veteran typically picked out Hispanic looking men.
The officer would pull over the chosen vehicle, usually without any reason. He would then demand between $100- $150 as a bribe for not turning in the victim for being in America undocumented.
Malgieri (42) was arrested and charged with multiple counts of theft by extortion, bribery and participating in a pattern of official misconduct, and seven victims have been interviewed.
Malgieri has been suspended without pay from his $85,228 job and will next appear in court March 30.
“Shaking down anyone is disgraceful and it will not be tolerated,” Romankow said. “We expect all the men and women who wear the badge to respect and honor the commitment to the law. His actions were to the contrary.”
Vanessa Acevedo, an Elizabeth social worker and immigrant advocate, said she fears the alleged actions of Malgieri will undermine trust within the immigrant population for the whole police force.
“If there is an entire sector of the community that is afraid to report a crime, more crime is going to happen as a result,” Acevedo said. “It hurts everybody in the community.”
“You have to wonder why he targeted undocumented immigrants,” she said. “Was it just because they were an easy target, or was it was his own brand of vigilante justice?”