An eighth police officer has been arrested for allegedly violating people’s civil rights as part of a sweeping FBI investigation into corruption at the Paterson Police Department.
Police sergeant Michael Cheff was arrested on Tuesday morning, according to law enforcement sources. He is expected to appear before a judge at the Newark federal courthouse in the afternoon.
Cheff is accused of civil rights violations and falsifying police reports. He worked with other guilty police officers to steal cash from residents.
For example, on Nov. 14, 2017, three police officers, who cooperated with the FBI, illegally searched a vehicle in the area of Plesinger Place. One of the officers handcuffed the driver and stole a few hundred dollars.
The officers then went to the victim’s apartment, a short distance from the stopped vehicle. Cheff appeared on the scene in an SUV and joined the officers.
Cheff and two officers had the victim’s mother sign a consent form to search the apartment. Inside the apartment, in the victim’s room, was a safe that contained $2,700. Cheff removed the cash from the safe and put it into his pocket, according to charging documents. He gave $319 to a subordinate officer to tag into evidence.
A police report claimed $319 cash was found on top of a shelf in the victim’s room. Cheff signed and approved the incident report. He knew the search yielded a larger sum than $319 and that the money was found in a safe and not on top of a shelf, according to documents.
Cheff stole the victim’s cash, according to charging documents. He gave $200 to one officer from the stolen proceeds.
Payroll records show Cheff has been with the police force for 24 years. His salary is listed at $134,678.
Cheff is the eighth police officer arrested in the probe which started in April 2018. Others arrested in the course of the investigation were Jonathan Bustios, Eudy Ramos, Roger Then, Daniel Pent, Matthew Torres, Frank Toledo, and Ruben McAusland.
Both McAusland and Then are serving time behind bars. McAusland was sentenced to more than five years in prison and Then was sentenced to six months in prison. Both men brutally attacked a suicidal man at a hospital. Additionally, McAusland was involved in dealing drugs with his marked police car, according to information the FBI made public following his arrest.
Bustios, Ramos, Pent, Torres, and Toledo have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
The investigation into corruption at the police force began after the appointment of police chief Troy Oswald. He has been credited with weeding out corruption in the department. Police referred the cases to the FBI for investigation that led to the arrests and convictions.
Updated 10:43 a.m.