EDISON — A Middlesex County Grand Jury has returned a 24-count indictment against four suspended township police officers, first accused four years ago of padding their paychecks with extra-duty jobs they never showed up for.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Edison Police Chief Thomas Bryan on Friday announced the host of charges against Sgt. Ioannis (John) Mpletsakis, 43, of Edison, Patrolman James Panagoulakos, 36, of Jackson, Patrolman Gregory Makras, 38, of Cranford and Sgt. Brian Rossmeyer, 45, of Bridgewater.

Each of the four men faces counts of:
— racketeering
— conspiracy
— bribery
— theft
— money laundering
— official misconduct, pattern of official misconduct
— hindering apprehension, fabricating evidence
— falsifying documents, failure to pay income tax, filing fraudulent tax returns
— witness tampering, retaliating against a witness and retaliation for past official action

Charges were first announced against the officers in October 2018, along with a fifth officer — the latest in a decades-long history of criminal behavior among township cops.

Paul Pappas took a plea deal a year later, MyCentralJersey reported.

The remaining four men pleaded not guilty. In April 2020, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez dismissed the case against Mpletsakis, Panagoulakos, Makras and Rossmeyer during a remote hearing.

The judge’s order allowed for the state to re-present the case once grand jury proceedings had resumed after the public health emergency.

A lengthy internal affairs investigation determined that from 2016 to 2018, officers were involved in a scheme aimed at exploiting the Edison Police Department’s extra duty job assignments, prosecutors said.

Mpletsakis, Panagoulakos, Makras and Rossmeyer have been accused of signing up to direct traffic for utility companies or providing security for local businesses at times when they still had their regular police responsibilities to carry out.

Investigators said Mpletsakis also stole from the Police Benevolent Association.

According to Ciccone, he used his executive position on the Edison PBA Local 75 to cheat Edison Township and the police union, using a PBA debit card for his own personal use.

Rocky history

In 2017, Judge Jimenez sentenced an Edison officer to 20 years in prison for firebombing his supervisor's home. Michael Dotro had pleaded guilty to attempted murder and arson.

Before that, Dotro had agreed to a plea deal in 2016, along with three fellow township officers stemming from a retaliation case involving a North Brunswick police officer, according to New Brunswick Today.

There were also more than a dozen officers investigated for illegal steroid use in 2018, NJ.com reported.

That evidence had come to light while Pappas was being investigated for allegedly stalking his ex-girlfriend while on duty in his unmarked police cruiser, according to a report by NJ.com.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

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