TRENTON – Attorney Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a New Jersey State Park Police Officer who served as president of both his local police union and a statewide police union was charged today with stealing more than $75,000 from the two unions over a period of seven years.
Chris Smith, 47, of Hope, N.J., was charged today by complaint-summons with second-degree theft by unlawful taking. Smith was charged in an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) Corruption Bureau.
From 2012 to 2018, Smith was president of New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) Local #222, which represents the New Jersey Park Police. From 2013 to 2021, he was president of the State Law Enforcement Union (SLEU). It is alleged that from 2013 to 2020, Smith stole more than $75,000 in total from PBA Local #222 and SLEU by using bank accounts and credit cards of the two unions to make unauthorized personal expenditures that were unrelated to union business. PBA Local #222 initially referred the case to the OPIA Corruption Bureau.
Smith allegedly used the credit accounts of both unions to pay for out-of-state personal travel that was unrelated to union activity, including airfare and rental car expenses for trips to Florida. In addition, he allegedly used the accounts of both unions to pay for personal meals and alcohol at restaurants in New Jersey and New York City unrelated to any PBA Local #222 or SLEU business.
Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Gilmore is prosecuting the case for the OPIA Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione. Attorney General Grewal thanked PBA Local #222 for their referral.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
The charge is merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Attorney General Grewal created the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) in September 2018 to combat corruption and strengthen public confidence in government institutions. In December 2019, the Attorney General issued a directive codifying OPIA and making it a permanent part of the Attorney General’s Office. That directive established the OPIA Corruption Bureau as the lead office within the Department of Law & Public Safety for the investigation and prosecution of state criminal violations involving corruption and abuse of public trust.
OPIA has a toll-free Tipline 1-844-OPIA-TIPS for the public to report corruption. The AG’s Office has an Anti-Corruption Reward Program that offers a reward of up to $25,000 for tips leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption. Information is posted at: http://nj.gov/oag/corruption/reward.html.