FREEHOLD – A Wall Township Police Department Sergeant has admitted to stealing more than $115,000 from his local Police Benevolent Association (PBA) chapter, a youth football nonprofit organization, and charitable campaigns intended to drive breast cancer research and benefit the survivor of a serious neurological injury, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Wednesday.    

In a hearing held earlier today before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Christie Bevacqua, 41-year-old James R. Cadigan admitted to charges of second- and third-degree Theft by Unlawful Taking.

An investigation into Cadigan’s activities was initiated last year by the MCPO Professional Responsibility & Bias Crime Bureau, upon receipt of a referral by the Wall Township PBA Local No. 234, which had discovered that a significant amount of cash proceeds was missing following the PBA’s “Pignic,” an annual summertime barbecue fundraiser.Sgt. Cadigan was solely responsible for orchestrating and running the event in 2022 and in many preceding years; the PBA annually donates proceeds from the event to various charitable organizations.   

In addition to confirming that a significant amount of cash was missing from the Pignic proceeds, the investigation revealed that starting at least in 2018 and in each year thereafter, Cadigan made numerous unauthorized cash withdrawals from multiple PBA bank accounts and wrote checks to himself and to cash from these accounts. It was determined that Cadigan would make these withdrawals both while on and off duty, sometimes in street clothes and other times in his full police uniform.

As the investigation continued, it revealed that from February 2020 to November 2022, in his capacity as President of the Wall American Youth Football (AYF) nonprofit organization, Cadigan also used a debit card intended for purchases to benefit the organization to purchase approximately $20,000 worth of items for his own personal use. Such items included pool pumps and chemicals, a quilted hammock, a truck hitch, a karaoke machine, a weight sled trainer, a boot warmer, an inflatable movie screen, grill tools and accessories, a pressure washer, backyard and holiday decorations, and accessories for tapping and serving draft beer.

The investigation additionally revealed two occasions in which Cadigan represented that he was raising money for charitable purposes, but then kept the money for himself. In the fall of 2020, Cadigan organized a powderpuff football game involving the mothers of Wall AYF football players, raising approximately $3,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; Cadigan never made the donation and instead kept the funds. Then, in December 2021, Cadigan started a campaign to raise money for a friend who had sustained a life-threatening brain aneurysm. Cadigan stole approximately $3,000 of the funds, then stole money from the PBA to pay the man back.

During today’s hearing, an order was finalized barring Cadigan from ever again holding public office in the State of New Jersey. Sentencing in the case has been tentatively scheduled for Thursday, March 14, 2024, at which time the State intends to recommend a sentence of eight years in state prison, with the possibility of a reduction to five years, contingent upon full payment of restitution: approximately $91,500 to the PBA and $24,200 to the AYF, for a combined total of more than $115,500.

“We strongly feel that this is an appropriate resolution of a genuinely troubling case in which an officer willfully and repeatedly violated the trust of both the public and his own colleagues for the sole purpose of obtaining personal benefit,” Prosecutor Santiago said. “There is no place within the ranks of law enforcement for such conduct.”

“James Cadigan’s actions do not reflect the integrity, commitment, and professionalism of the women and men of the Wall Township Police Department,” Wall Township Police Chief Sean O’Halloran added.

This case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the MCPO Professional Responsibility & Bias Crime Bureau. Cadigan is being represented by Mitchell J. Ansell, Esq., with an office in Ocean Township.