Records reveal that the ‘Wrong Way on a One-Way’ summons issued to JCPD P.O. Richie Lopez, which is at the heart of a ticket-fixing allegation, was apparently dismissed due to a problematic axle.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and clouds of suspicion are pluming out of Jersey City Municipal Court as new details surrounding a ticket-fixing allegation emerge.
As previously reported, an anonymous Internal Affairs complaint accused then-Asst. Municipal Prosecutor Paul Scalia of improperly dismissing a summons issued to Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) Officer Richie Lopez; supposedly on behalf of Deputy Chief Edgar Martinez, according to police sources.
It’s unknown if any action was taken regarding the anonymous complaint (or how thoroughly it was investigated). Despite a separate cloud of controversy, Scalia was successfully nominated by Mayor Steven Fulop to become a Jersey City municipal court judge last month.
Since the initial report on the ticket-fixing allegation, records obtained by Real Garden State have revealed the following:
- The moving violation summons – for driving the wrong way on a one-way street – was issued after the vehicle operated by Lopez crashed into two parked cars.
- A JCPD Crash Investigation Report stated 1) all of the vehicles involved sustained damage to the driver’s side; 2) skid marks were observed next to the parked cars; and 3) the first parked vehicle struck by Lopez’s car ended up on the curb due to the collision.
- The JCPD Crash Investigation Report also states that Lopez told fellow officers “his vehicle’s axle broke causing him to strike” the two parked cars. After striking the parked vehicles, Lopez said “he then made a u-turn” with his car a few houses up the street.
- Lopez submitted a letter from a Jersey City Heights auto body/repair shop claiming his vehicle had “a pre-existing driving issue specifically the axle.” Sources say the author of the letter is the father of a JCPD officer that’s also connected to Martinez.
- The moving violation was apparently dismissed because of the axle issue, no injuries, and lack of proof. Court records confirm Scalia was the prosecutor who dismissed Lopez’s ticket.
The ticket-fixing allegation involving Richie Lopez and Paul Scalia
An anonymous complaint received by the JCPD Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) on May 20, 2020, alleged that Lopez was involved in a MVA (motor vehicle accident) and arranged for Scalia to dismiss a summons issued to him for driving the wrong way on Columbia Avenue in the Jersey City Heights.
Lopez was issued a summons on June 30, 2019, by fellow JCPD officer Shahzad Hashmi for violating N.J.S.A. 39:4-85.1 (wrong way on a one-way street). When Real Garden State first reported the story, court records indicated that the ticket was handled in Jersey City Municipal Court and ultimately dismissed on December 26, 2019, due to prosecutorial discretion.
Of note, according to a high-level court employee speaking off-the-record, Lopez’s ticket should’ve been transferred to another municipal court – Hoboken, Kearny, etc. – because he’s a JCPD officer.
Jersey City Municipal Court audio and records from Richie Lopez case
Whether it was incompetence or malfeasance, audio from Lopez’s court appearances made it clear that the case was dismissed on September 12, 2019 (not December 26, 2019).
Court records were updated to reflect the correct disposition date after Real Garden State filed a records request with the Jersey City Municipal Court. Documents provided in response to that request revealed:
- Scalia was the assistant prosecutor that handled Lopez’s case.
- Lopez’s first court hearing was in Judge Margaret Marley’s courtroom on August 1, 2019, but was rescheduled to August 15, 2019, due to a missing accident report.
- The ticket was dismissed in Judge James McCaffery’s courtroom on September 12, 2019.
Of note, court records still indicate that the case was dismissed due to prosecutorial discretion, yet the back of the original summons was marked “Dismissed-Other” rather than “Dismissed – Pros. Discretion” by McCaffery. Listen to court audio from JCPD P.O. Richie Lopez’s court appearances:
Crash Investigation Report reveals two parked vehicles struck, pictures of aftermath obtained
As previously mentioned, the ‘Wrong Way on a One-Way’ summons was issued after the vehicle operated by Lopez crashed into two parked cars. He refused medical attention from a Jersey City Medical Center ambulance that arrived to the scene.
A JCPD Crash Investigation Report written by P.O. Carlos Jimenez stated 1) all of the vehicles involved sustained damage to the driver’s side (which indicates Lopez was driving the wrong way); 2) skid marks were observed next to the parked cars; and 3) the first parked vehicle struck by Lopez’s car ended up on the curb due to the collision.
The JCPD Crash Investigation Report also states that Lopez told fellow officers “his vehicle’s axle broke causing him to strike” the two parked cars. After striking the parked vehicles, Lopez said “he then made a u-turn” with his car a few houses up the street.
Residents and JCPD North District cops told Real Garden State that people driving against the one-way on Columbia Avenue is a common shortcut in that area (after turning from Secaucus Road). Additionally, some Columbia Ave. residents were acutely aware of the crash, including one who provided photos of damage, but none would speak on the record due to fear of retaliation.
Letter claims Lopez’s vehicle had pre-existing driving issue, adds fuel to Edgar Martinez connection
Lopez submitted a letter to the court from Centro Auto Body, Inc., a Jersey City Heights auto body/repair shop, claiming his 2011 Honda Accord had “a pre-existing driving issue.” Specifically, the issue was an “axle which proved to be problematic.”
According to police sources and handwritten notes on the letter, the Wrong Way on a One-Way summons was apparently dismissed because of the axle issue, no injuries, and lack of proof. Notably, JCPD sources say Hashmi, the officer who signed the summons issued to Lopez, was never subpoenaed by the court prior to the ticket being dismissed.
Furthermore, sources say the author of the “problematic axle” letter, John Bove, is the father of a JCPD officer, Giovanni C. Bove, that’s connected to JCPD Deputy Chief Edgar Martinez. While everything written in the letter might be on-the-up-and-up, the connection adds fuel to the fire of speculation that Scalia dismissed Lopez’s ticket on behalf of Martinez.
A spokesperson for the City of Jersey City has not responded to an email regarding the ticket-fixing allegation. If/when that occurs, this story will be updated.