FREEHOLD - A judge Friday sentenced a former Aberdeen police officer to almost a year in jail for tampering with evidence on two occasions, including a drug test he was required to take.
Superior Court Judge Jill O’Malley sentenced Philip M. Santiago, 35, of Keyport to 364 days in the Monmouth County Jail, followed by three years on probation and barred him from any future public employment in New Jersey, acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey said.
Santiago, a police officer since 2018 and a police dispatcher in Aberdeen prior to that, was suspended from duty and criminally charged in September 2021 following an investigation by the prosecutor’s Professional Responsibility and Bias Crime Unit uncovered the two instances of evidence tampering, according to a news release issued by the prosecutor’s office.
The investigation revealed Santiago in January 2021 intentionally tampered with a drug test he had been ordered to take by piercing it with the pin on the back of his police badge, rendering it unable to be processed, the news release said.
The probe further revealed that Santiago, while on duty in May 2021, deleted a video from a cell phone belonging to a suspect who had just been arrested by Aberdeen police, the news release said. The video had depicted interactions between the suspect and police prior to the suspect’s arrest.
Santiago pleaded guilty in April to two counts of tampering with physical evidence.
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“Using one’s badge, a symbol of public trust, to break the law is an affront to all enforcement officers who understand the duties and responsibilities that come with the job," Linskey said. “There is no place in law enforcement for such conduct, and this defendant’s actions are not representative of the vast majority of officer in Monmouth County who serve with integrity."
Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco handled the case for the state. Santiago was represented by Michael Reilly.
Kathleen Hopkins, a reporter in New Jersey since 1985, covers crime, court cases, legal issues and just about every major murder trial to hit Monmouth and Ocean counties. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Aberdeen NJ police officer sentenced for evidence tampering