FREEHOLD – A Brielle police officer pleaded guilty Thursday to taking more than $700 from the expense account of the local police union, announced Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Michael W. Palmer, Jr., 33, of Wall Township, pleaded guilty to an Accusation charging him with one count of third-degree Theft.   Palmer acknowledged during the plea before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregossa-O’Connor that between February 20 and March 25, 2020, while treasurer for the PBA, he took $734.25 in cash withdrawals from the PBA bank account for personal purposes and without authorization.

The sentencing recommendation will be non-custodial probation; however, Palmer is allowed to apply to PreTrial Intervention.  An order forfeiting his position as a Brielle police officer and permanently forfeiting public office in New Jersey was also entered today and was a condition of the plea.  Palmer also agreed to pay the victim, the Brielle PBA, $734.25 in restitution.  Sentencing is scheduled for October 22, 2020.

“We will continue to hold law enforcement officers accountable for their actions and will prosecute those who violate the law. Police officers who betray their oaths fail our citizens, their fellow officers, and make it harder for the law enforcement community to obtain the public’s trust.  We will not tolerate this conduct and the added burden that it places on the work of honorable law enforcement officers who are working tirelessly to serve their communities,” Gramiccioni said.

Palmer was charged in July after an internal affairs review by the Brielle Police Department and follow-up investigation by this Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crimes Unit revealed Palmer made several ATM cash withdrawals in Wall Township, Ocean Township and Neptune City from the expense account of the Brielle Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 395, while serving as their treasurer between January and June of this year.  These withdrawals were unrelated to PBA business and were made for personal reasons.

Palmer was employed as a Brielle Borough police officer on Dec. 1, 2018, where he earned $105,383. Prior to today’s forfeiture order, Palmer was suspended without pay.

“I can’t stress this enough; Mr. Palmer’s behavior was inexcusable and is by no means a representation of the high level of professionalism and integrity of every Brielle police officer. As a department, and as an association, we are very pleased with the outcome of this case and we look forward to moving on and recovering from this,” said Brielle Police Chief Gary J. Olsen.

The case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crimes Unit.

 Palmer is represented by Charles Uliano, Esq., of West Long Branch.

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