AG’s office knocks Gene Rubino out as Esther Suarez’s Chief of Detectives

DCJ Director Veronica Allende’s message to Prosecutor Esther Suarez states that Gene Rubino “does not meet the requisite qualifications necessary to serve in the position of Chief of Detectives for your office.”

Division of Criminal Justice Director Veronica Allende, Gene Rubino of HCPO, and Prosecutor Esther Suarez (left to right).

Whispers about his lack of qualifications have followed Gennaro “Gene” Rubino since Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez made him Chief of Detectives for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO).

According to a letter sent to Real Jersey City, it seems like Rubino’s tenure as the HCPO’s Chief of Detectives is now over because of those whispers – which are that he never completed a Police Training Commission (PTC) approved course for either county detectives or police officers.

In a letter apparently written by Veronica Allende, director of the New Jersey Attorney General’s (NJOAG) Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ), it states that “it is our office’s position that Mr. Rubino does not meet the requisite qualifications necessary to serve in the position of Chief of Detectives in your office.”

Though the information behind this report hasn’t been verified, when reached by phone, Gene Rubino declined to answer whether he’s been removed from the position and referred questions to the HCPO’s spokesperson – who has also declined to respond. Law enforcement sources that have been read the contents of the letter believe that it’s legitimate.

Despite the whispers, Rubino has served as the HCPO’s Chief of Detectives for nearly four years – which raises questions about the timing and decisions made by NJOAG officials.

“This is consistent with the position we have taken and presented to you in numerous meetings and telephone conversations over the last few years,” the letter states.

According to the NJOAG website, Allende was announced as the DCJ director on March 6, 2018. Prior to that, Elie Honig, who has since become a CNN legal analyst focused on Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump-Russian collusion, was director.

According to documents obtained via an Open Public Record Act (OPRA) request, on March 11, 2016, HCPO First Assistant Prosecutor Wayne Mello wrote a letter to DCJ officials withdrawing Rubino from Basic Course for Investigations 16-01. In a prior communication, a PTC official stated that Rubino must complete training before July 1, 2016 – which apparently never happened.

For whatever reason, then-Director Honig failed to take action as the DCJ’s leader. It took Allende less than a year, breathtaking speed by NJOAG standards, to somewhat rectify the situation.

Rubino will still be allowed to carry a gun, if his bi-annual HQ1, HQ2, and use of force certifications are current, but he is “not permitted to use equipment such as clothing, jackets or badges that identifies him as either the Chief, Chief of Detectives or as a police officer.” Additionally, Rubino is “not permitted to carry handcuffs, a baton, or O.C. spray,” but he is permitted to drive any vehicles normally assigned to prosecutors.

It should be noted that Allende spoke highly of Rubino in the letter, saying he had a “stellar reputation in the law enforcement community.” Yet, given the cloud of suspicion surrounding the NJOAG-HCPO connection related to the Katie Brennan case, the timing of the move might seem questionable to political onlookers.

Of note, Rubino is considered a political ally of North Bergen Mayor/state Senator Nicholas Sacco (D-32).

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