COP'S THEFT, MISCONDUCT TRIAL HEADS TO THE JURY

Record |

Marc Messing's trial started with an admission: He endorsed a $1,000 check for the borough of Palisades Park and deposited it into his personal account in 2014.

Now a jury in Hackensack will decide whether the deposit amounts to theft, forgery and official misconduct committed by a police sergeant, or an innocent misunderstanding becauseMessing thought the check was his, his attorneys say.

Criminal intent was at the center of the four-day trial that ended Thursday with attorneys offering their best theories on Messing's motivations on .

That day, Messing walked into a bank across from the police station, holding a check for the borough. The bank teller initially refused to deposit it until Messing grabbed a pen and added his name.

The deposit was a mistake. Messing was handed the check directly after working road security for a utility company, a common police practice, said Kenneth Ralph, his attorney.

"Doing something wrong is not the same as committing a crime," Ralph told a jury on Wednesday. "A crime requires purpose to commit a crime or knowledge that a crime is being committed."

Prosecutors say Messing, a police veteran of 11 years, was too experienced to feign ignorance. Though utility companies typically pay the borough directly for providing a traffic detail, the cost is always divided between the borough and police officer, which Messing should have known.

"The only mistake was that he thought he would get away with it," said Brian Sinclair, an assistant prosecutor.

Messing, 38, has remained suspended from the department since his arrest in on three counts of theft-related offenses and two counts of official misconduct. A grand jury indicted him in summer 2015.

The trial included testimony on Messing's assignment to security on Grand Avenue for High Point Utilities one day in .

Sinclair said the most Messing could have made from the detail after the borough took its portion was $240.

"How could he possibly think that he should get more than double the amount?" Sinclair said. "Because it wasn't a mistake."

The most Messing had earned during a traffic assignment was $720 for 12 hours, according to payroll records presented at trial.

Anthony Muccio, a captain in the borough's Police Department, testified that when he pressed Messing on what happened to the check, Messing replied that he "thought he got lucky on that detail."

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing," Muccio said. "I said, 'You're kidding right?' "

Messing's defense argued that the state attached a sinister meaning to the comment, and that Messing was told he would receive the check directly at the detail, which had never happened before.

Several character witnesses testified in Messing's defense, including former Palisades Park Mayor James Rotundo and David Lorenzo, the borough business administrator, who testified that the borough never lost money from Messing's deposit. "They all have high opinions of Marc," Ralph said.

The defense accused Muccio of having an ax to grind because Messing's mother is Cynthia Pirrera, Palisades Park's council president, who did not vote for him to be chief.

Muccio admitted on the stand that he privately asked for Pirrera's support, but she abstained from voting. However, he never held any ill feeling towards Messing, whom he considered a dedicated officer before his suspension, Muccio said.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

Comments

Watchlist

Symbol Last Price Change % Change
AAPL

     
AMZN

     
HD

     
JPM

     
IBM

     

INTERVIEW: CEO Steve Stanulis - Stanulis Films

Equities.com's Sam Mitchell interviewing CEO Steve Stanulis of Stanulis Films.