In a case that’s held the city of Hackensack rapt for over two years, still-current Police Chief Ken Zisa was found guilty of official misconduct and insurance fraud this week. The report out of NorthJersey.com reads like one out of a city in turmoil, with allegations of conspiracy and bribery of and by city officials.
Ken Zisa is still the police chief of the city, still on suspension without pay as he has been for the past two years. And according to Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor, Daniel Keitel, that may or may not soon change. City manager Stephen Lo Iacono says he will wait for direction from the courts on how to handle Zisa’a job status.
“Right now, as we speak, his status is the same as it has been for the past two years,” said Iocono. “He’s certainly not on the job. Whatever process the legal system is going to take, we have to live with that and wait for it.”
The convictions will likely allow civil cases to move forward. More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed against Zisa by officers who once reported to him, asking for millions in damages.
Hackensack was referred to by Zisa’s political opponents as “Zisaville,” simply because Ken Zisa was chief for 15 years and “members of his family held the top elected and appointed positions for decades.”
But this apparently led to two different justice systems—one for the Zisas and one for everyone else, according to prosecutors.
At issue in the criminal case was Zisa’s alleged involvement in saving his then-girlfriend from criminal charges after rushing to her accident scene and leading her away before any breath test or field sobriety tests could be administered. According to one officer at the scene, Kathleen Tiernan was so intoxicated she couldn’t walk without Zisa’a assistance.
Tiernan was also charged and convicted of insurance fraud because she later filed an insurance claim that the accident was actually caused by an animal in the road.
In another incident, Zisa allegedly pressured an officer into removing the name of Tiernan’s son from a police report concerning the assault and robbery of a teenager.
Defense lawyers for Zisa argued that the insurance claim was valid, that the accident happened just as Tiernan said it did and that officers, in both instances, were lying about the entire thing. They said Zisa himself was a victim, of “political conspiracy involving Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli and fuelled by his disgruntled subordinates.”
Cases like this one seem to show that no one is above the law, that those accused of criminal behavior will eventually have their day in court. But it seems that unless you are in the upper echelon of society, your court date comes much faster.
Whether you are accused of something like fraud or something as simple as cocaine possession, you need someone working to minimize the effects of the charges on your life. We may be able to help.
Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case and what can be done.