Municipal judge named in Internal Affairs complaint alleging ticket fix for Jersey City cop

An anonymous Internal Affairs complaint accused attorney Paul Scalia of being involved in a ticket fix for JCPD P.O. Richie Lopez; supposedly on behalf of Deputy Chief Edgar Martinez, per sources.

Jersey City - Richie Lopez - Edgar Martinez - Paul Scalia

Left-to-right: P.O. Richie Lopez, Deputy Chief Edgar Martinez, and Municipal Court Judge Paul Scalia.

The dismissal of a moving violation summons, issued by one Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) officer to another, has raised allegations of ticket fixing inside the Jersey City Municipal Court.

Notably, the allegations of impropriety include a former assistant municipal prosecutor that recently became a municipal court judge under a cloud of controversy.

Paul Scalia nominated for municipal court judgeship, Jersey City Times questions residency

On April 1, 2021, Mayor Steven Fulop announced that he was nominating attorneys Rahat Chatha and Paul Scalia to become Jersey City municipal court judges. According to Fulop’s press release, Scalia served as an assistant municipal prosecutor for 20 years before his nomination.

Two weeks after Fulop’s announcement, the Jersey City Times (JC Times) published reports that highlighted political donations to Team Fulop and questioned the residency of both nominees.

Relative to Chatha and her household, which made a total of $19,880 in contributions to Fulop’s campaigns between 2012 and 2019, the report stated “Scalia and a family member made a series of smaller but significant donations to Fulop and his team totaling $3,525.”

Though it could be not be definitively established, the JC Times report suggests Scalia is likely a resident of Cranford, NJ, rather than Jersey City  – which would violate a requirement for municipal court judges. Specifically, the article states:

Accurint, “the most widely accepted locate-and-research tool available to government, law enforcement and commercial customers,” has Paul Tony Scalia living in a house owned by Rosanne Scalia, in Cranford, New Jersey. Multiple other online services have him living there as well. In 2015, the Township of Cranford appointed Scalia as “Alternate Municipal Prosecutor.” Scalia’s Mercedes SUV was seen parked at the Cranford house yesterday afternoon.

For purposes of his donations to the mayor, Scalia gives a pizzeria on Central Avenue in Jersey City and an apartment right above it. Both Scalia’s law practice and a company run by Alberto Scalia called Spincube are listed as occupants of that same apartment. In several filings, Scalia has given the apartment as his home address. He is registered to vote in Jersey City.

Both the Fulop administration and Scalia declined requests for comment on the JC Times story, according to the report. Despite a plea from Ward E Councilperson James Solomon to postpone a vote, Scalia’s confirmation was approved by all members of the Jersey City Council running for reelection on Fulop’s ticket.

Real Garden State obtains Internal Affairs complaint naming Richie Lopez, Paul Scalia

An anonymous complaint filed with the JCPD Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) alleges that JCPD P.O. Richie Lopez arranged for then-Asst. Municipal Prosecutor Paul Scalia to handle his ticket for driving the wrong way on Columbia Avenue in the Jersey City Heights.

Court records indicate that 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). The ticket was handled in Jersey City Municipal Court and ultimately dismissed on December 26, 2019, due to prosecutorial discretion.

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.

The anonymous Internal Affairs complaint obtained by Real Garden State was received by the JCPD Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) on May 20, 2020, and given a case number (2020-058). Specifically, the IA complaint alleges that:

P.O. Richie Lopez was involved in an MVA and received tickets. P.O. Lopez called civilian Rosi Morales at the courts to have his court date, time and court room changed to a specific date, time and room. P.O. Lopez changed the court room and time to make sure it was when Prosecutor Paul Scalia was working so the tickets would get dismissed.

Multiple JCPD sources with knowledge of the situation claim that Lopez is “taken care of” by JCPD Deputy Chief Edgar Martinez. Furthermore, Martinez has a close relationship with Scalia, and it’s rumored that Scalia dismissed Lopez’s ticket on behalf of Martinez.

Of note, Hashmi, the officer who issued Lopez the summons on June 30, 2019, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on October 10, 2019, alleging anti-Muslim discrimination related to his “manicured beard” and named Martinez as a defendant.

No comment by Fulop administration

A spokesperson for the City of Jersey City did not respond to an email seeking comment for this report. If/when that occurs, this story will be updated.

Specifically, the city was asked to confirm or deny the existence of the anonymous Internal Affairs complaint and confirm whether or not JCPD IAU had conducted/concluded an investigation into the ticket fixing allegation.

UPDATE: A passage related to Martinez’s connection to a Central Avenue property has been removed. Read new story about that here.

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