Three Lawrence Township police officers are facing criminal charges for allegedly falsifying records. Two of the officers allegedly had a rendezvous at a state park in Princeton when the parks were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office was contacted by Lawrence Township police earlier this month regarding allegations of deceptive conduct and falsification of records by three of its officers.
According to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s office, an investigation revealed that the officers intentionally misrepresented their actual locations and falsified reports and records. One of the officers is also accused of realigning his in-car video recorder. According to the prosecutor, the officers “allowed their purely personal interests to infect the proper performance of their legal obligations as police officers.”
Two officers were charged with meeting in a state park for unofficial business in violation of Gov. Phil Murphy’s order that closed state parks to the public amid the coronavirus pandemic. The third officer was charged with falsifying documentation about his whereabouts, but that charge wasn’t related to Murphy’s executive order,
As a result of the investigation, Police Officer Hector Nieves, 44, was charged with falsifying government records, tampering with records, and violation of Governor’s Executive Order No. 118. Officer Liubove Bjorklund, 32, was charged with falsifying government records and violation of Executive Order No. 118. Officer Timothy Wallace, 28, was charged with falsifying government records. All three officers were served summons complaints Thursday morning.
The investigation determined that Nieves falsely documented his location in CAD records on 19 occasions between March 21 and May 11. He violated the executive order by allegedly entering the New Jersey Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park in Princeton on April 23 while the park was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for a purpose unrelated to his police duties. The investigation also revealed that on multiple occasions, he altered the view of the camera in his assigned patrol car so that it did not capture him covertly meeting with an off-duty female police officer. In one incident, the camera’s position was altered so that it would not record Nieves and the off-duty officer meeting or entering the closed park, thereby concealing the unlawful conduct.
Bjorklund is charged with falsifying her location in meal break documents on 11 occasions between March 20 and May 4. She also violated an executive order by entering the New Jersey Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park in Princeton on April 23 while the park was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for a purpose unrelated to her job.
Wallace is charged with falsely documenting his location in a CAD record on May 4.
Tampering with records is a fourth-degree charge. Violation of an executive order and falsifying government records are disorderly persons offenses.
Officials said all three officers have been suspended from the police department without pay.