FREEHOLD – A former Wall Township Police Department Sergeant has been sentenced to five years in state prison for 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 Thursday.    

The term was finalized during a sentencing hearing held yesterday before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Christie Bevacqua, who also ordered that 42-year-old James R. Cadigan pay applicable fines.

An investigation into Cadigan’s activities was initiated in late 2022 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.

Cadigan pleaded guilty to charges of second- and third-degree Theft by Unlawful Taking in December 2023. During the plea hearing, an order was finalized barring Cadigan from ever again holding public office in the State of New Jersey.

Yesterday Cadigan also indicated that approximately $91,500 in restitution has been paid to the PBA and $24,150 to the AYF, for a combined total of more than $115,650.

“On the one hand, this defendant’s conduct was indefensible and unconscionable – the serial nature of the thefts from multiple victims, including individuals engaged in charitable endeavors, represented the very worst of law enforcement,” Prosecutor Santiago said. “On the other hand, the fact that our investigation was made possible only due to the defendant’s own colleagues coming forward to expose his wrongdoing, is eminently commendable, representing the very best of law enforcement.”

“Our agency is happy that this is now behind us and we can continue to build public trust,” Wall Township Police Chief Sean O’Halloran added. “I again want to praise the officers of Wall Police who discovered this crime and reported it without hesitation. This shows their level of integrity and commitment to the agency and the town. We would like to thank the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office for their professionalism and diligence during this investigation.”

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