The same Jersey City Police Department vehicle from a Kane In Your Corner News12 NJ investigation, which sources say wasn’t supposed to be used as a take-home car, and something Mayor Steven Fulop promised to crack down on, was spotted in front of Capt. Leonidas “Lou” Karras’ Jersey Shore home.
It might be a case of déjà vu involving a Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) Dodge Durango found outside the home of a politically-connected police superior union official.
In August 2014, an investigation by Walt Kane of News12 NJ alleged that politically connected JCPD officers in Jersey City were getting lucrative benefits that didn’t go to others, including take-home cars. Specifically, Kane identified Lt. Kelly Chesler as taking home a black JCPD Durango daily, and stated it was “a benefit the city claims only goes to top brass or undercover units.”
On January 28, 2016, Real Jersey City – during an investigation of JCPD Capt. Leonidas “Lou” Karras – spotted the same city-owned vehicle outside his Ocean County home. Sources say that Karras was likely not authorized to take home the vehicle, and Jennifer Morrill, spokesperson for the Fulop Administration, declined to return an email inquiring if documented permission was granted.
Karras’ wife is also a JCPD officer, but was never captured operating the city-owned car.
For Mayor Steven Fulop, the issue of take-home cars has been something he’s been very vocal about, and after the Kane In Your Corner report his administration said they would audit vehicle assignments and overtime pay.
Going back to his days as Ward E councilman, Fulop decried take-home cars in a Facebook post from 2011. He wrote at the time that “cars are given to political people, & a ton of take-home cars in the parking authority, MUA, JC Incinerator Authority, and police department go unreported. They also get approx $3,500/person in free gas per year.” (Link – https://www.facebook.com/steven.fulop/posts/266686486688328)
Ironically, nearly five years later, Fulop is now a central figure in the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO), and is politically connected with the Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association (JCPSOA) – a union Karras is a trustee in.
According to the Jersey City Independent, one of Fulop’s first moves as mayor was to institute a policy that “only emergency responders will be permitted to take municipal cars home.” The policy also stated that “any city-owned car that leaves the boundaries of Jersey City without prior approval will be considered theft of property and will be pursued as such, according to the new policy.”
Karras works in the city command center, in a position not afforded a take-home car, according to sources.
As one source said regarding the take-home vehicle, “if Fulop doesn’t crack down on Karras it will show a great deal of hypocrisy.”
As mentioned before, city spokesperson Morrill declined to comment on this story.