A Vineland patrol officer admitted in Superior Court in Bridgeton on Monday to stealing $40,000 in union funds related to the members of two police departments, including his own.
Steven R. Buglio pleaded guilty to two counts of theft for incidents that occurred from 2007 through 2011 from Police Benevolent Association Local 266, of which he was president, Cumberland County First Assistant Prosecutor Harold B. Shapiro said.
The plea agreement with the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office requires Buglio to make $40,000 worth of restitution to the local, which represents police officers in Vineland, Cumberland County, and Buena, Atlantic County, Shapiro said. Buglio must also file new state and federal income tax returns for the years 2007 through 2011 that reflect the money he took from the union, he said.
The plea agreement further requires the 37-year-old Buglio to serve a period of noncustodial probation that will be set at sentencing at between one and five years, Shapiro said. That period could be extended to make sure that Buglio meets the tax-filing and restitution requirements, he said.
Buglio further agreed to resign as a member of the Vineland Police Department and never again work for a law-enforcement agency in New Jersey, Shapiro said.
Vineland police Chief Timothy Codispoti said his department is awaiting Buglio’s resignation.
Buglio, a Vineland resident, and Vineland Patrol Officer William C. Newman, a fellow co-defendant, who lives in Elmer, Salem County, were both suspended without pay when they were arrested Feb 18.
Buglio worked for the department for eight years at the time of his arrest. Newman, who was the union’s treasurer, had worked for the department for five years when he was arrested.
Sentencing for Buglio is scheduled for April 19, at which time the plea agreement calls for two counts of conspiracy to be dropped, Shapiro said.
Officials with the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office said Newman applied for pre-trial intervention in September after waiving a grand jury review of the case against him. Pre-trial intervention is a way for first offenders to have an offense dropped from their records provided they meet certain conditions that are acceptable to the court and the prosecution.
Shapiro said Newman’s pre-trial intervention request is still under consideration.
Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said at the time of the arrests that the investigation into the missing union money was initiated by Codispoti and conducted by her office’s Professional Standards Unit. She said her office had the full cooperation of Codispoti and members of his police department.
Also at the time of the arrests, PBA President Anthony Weiners said he had been contacted by Local 266 members who were concerned about the local’s finances. The concerns were “elevated when information was developed that financial records were incorrect,” he said in the statement.
Criminal complaints released by Webb-McRae’s office stated that Buglio and Newman “failed to make the proper disposition” of the union’s funds. The complaints further stated that Buglio and Newman used the money “as if it was (their) own.”
Weiners said he took the “unusual step” of removing Buglio as the local’s president because of the investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office.
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