2 New Jersey cops admitted they dressed in disguises and vandalized the cars of a man who filed complaints against them

  • Two New Jersey cops admitted to vandalizing the cars of a man who complained about them.

  • Stephen Martinsen and Thomas Dowling pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal mischief and agreed to forfeit any future public employment in the state.

  • The wore disguises to smash the windows and slash the tires of two vehicles in September.

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Asbury Park police
Two Asbury Park officers admitted to vandalizing the cars of a man who complained about them.

Two New Jersey police officers admitted Tuesday that they smashed up two cars owned by a man who had complained about them, the Monmouth County Prosecutor said.

Asbury Park Police Officer Stephen Martinsen, 31, and former officer Thomas Dowling, 27, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal mischief in Monmouth County Superior Court, according to a statement from the county prosecutor.

The charge stems from an incident on September 3, 2019, when the men vandalized two cars — one in Asbury Park and another in Ocean Grove — that belonged to someone who had filed an internal affairs complaint against them. The men smashed windows and slashed the tires, causing $500 in damage, according to prosecutors.

"Spiteful retaliation from law enforcement officers towards a citizen for any reason is an unacceptable option. This is in no way condoned at any level, for any reason," Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement. "All members of the law enforcement community must maintain the public's trust by conducting themselves at the highest level of integrity and decency."

The two vehicles belonged to Ernest G. Mignoli, an Asbury Park resident who had criticized the police department, New Jersey Advance Media reported. The officers were dressed in disguises at the time, authorities said at the time.

When Mignoli, 70, learned that the officers were responsible for the damage to the cars, his "jaw dropped," he said in an interview with NJ Advance Media last year.

As a part of the plea agreement, neither men will be able to work public service in the state, the prosecutor's office said.

Their sentencing is scheduled for October 16.

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