According to new FBI documents obtained by the Trentonian, former Bordentown Township police chief Frank Nucera shared racist “jokes” with other current and former township employees.
Township clerk Colleen Eckert told FBI agents and assistant United States Attorneys in a March 2017 interview that she and Nucera, who she called “a mentor” to her, used racial slurs including the n-word. In the interview, Eckert specifically referenced a local real estate developer—the name, along with other identifying characteristics, was redacted.
“Eckert recalled an occasion when [redacted] came into the township building after hours. Eckert stated, ‘We’d (Eckert and Chief Nucera) be like, oh, that n-g,’ in response to seeing [redacted],” according to the documents. Nucera also felt that that developer, who Eckert called “shady,” was “working an angle.” Eckert, Nucera and former township CFO David Kocian all used the word. At the time, the three all received an extra $20,000 to share township administrator duties. Eckert is still employed by the township.
The report went on to say that Eckert—who has worked for the township in some capacity since 1996—felt she and Nucera used the slur in a “joking way” and not “in a derogatory sense” because she hears “it all the time on Sirrus [sic] when I listen to hip hop.” She said she had never heard the former chief talk about people of Hispanic background, though she recalled him referring to “people he assumed were of Middle Eastern descent” as “towel heads”—”whoever wears the turban,” she said.
Last year, Nucera was charged with a hate crime following an FBI investigation into a September 2016 incident at the Ramada Inn during which he allegedly slammed then 18-year-old Timothy Stroye’s head into a doorjamb after township police were called to the hotel. Stroye was handcuffed at the time of the alleged assault.
Nucera quietly retired in early 2017. Eckert says in the filing that when when she learned Nucera was retiring, he told her that “there were some racial things said and that if he did not retire, then he was going to be brought up on charges.” He went on to tell Eckert that the only thing he had done wrong was embarrass the Bordentown Township Police Department.
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An interview with township police officer Erich Hess was also included in the filing. Hess, who has been with the department for 10 years, said Nucera fostered an feeling of “paranoia” around some of the force because he had fired a number of officers. Hess, the first school resource officer at Bordentown Regional High School, also claimed that Nucera often exploded into profane, demeaning rants, including once when Nucera found him in the SRO office when school was not in session.
Hess, one of the officers who secretly recorded Nucera, recalled an incident that took place three years ago in which he arrived at the scene of an automobile crash after Nucera did, only to find Nucera there, gun pointed at the teenage driver who was lying face-first on the ground. In another incident, Hess witnessed dashcam footage of Nucera intentionally hit a women with his elbow during a traffic stop. Officer James Chiariello said in another interview included in the filing that although he never witnessed Nucera using excessive force, he did hear about two incidents: in one, Nucera allegedly stepped on a drug suspect’s neck, and in another, Nucera allegedly pepper sprayed a woman who was both handcuffed and lying on the ground. Nucera, Chiariello continued, is the only member of the township police department he ever heard using a racial slur.
Nucera also allegedly set ticket quotas for officers, which is illegal except in the use of statistics in New Jersey, according to the 2013 New Jersey Revised Statutes Title 40A. According to the filing, 45 tickets “would keep an officer in good standing with Chief Nucera.” Nate Roohr, another officer who recorded Nucera, was told by the former chief that he only wanted actual traffic violations instead of warnings.
An interview with current Bordentown Police Chief Brian Pesce also appears in the filing. Pesce said Nucera was known to have yelled and used profanity both with citizens and other officers, as well as racial slurs. He frequently heard Nucera refer to Black citizens as “those people.” Nucera often expressed stereotypes like “Indian people smell” or “Black people don’t like dogs,” which he specifically heard in reference to a basketball game between BRHS and Willingboro High School. Pesce said he had heard Nucera use other slurs like “fa–ot” and “sp-c.”
He discussed a 2016 incident where a woman was arrested in court for disorderly conduct. When she was brought to the station, handcuffed and “uncooperative,” Nucera left his office and grabbed her. He then cuffed her to a bench, each wrist on one end of the bench. “She looked like ‘she was on a cross,'” Pesce said in the interview. She appeared to be in crisis, so Pesce intervened and took her to a crisis center, though he said he felt Nucera should have recognized she needed help.
Pesce also stated that Nucera was angry when the Fieldsboro Police Department dissolved in 2015 and then entered into a shared services agreement with the Bordentown City Police Department. “F–k them,” Nucera said. “Don’t back Bordentown City.”
Another township police officer, whose name was redacted from the documents, attested to Nucera using mulitple racial slurs. He or she also heard Nucera “asked who talked to the township committee” about a payroll issue, adding that the punishment for whoever reached out to the officials “would be severe and swift.” That same day, the former chief also called his own officers “millennial c–ts and fa–ot pu–ies.”
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Transcribed recordings in the filing revealed additional racist and homophobic remarks by Nucera, including this rant which sprung from a discussion about the opioid addiction epidemic in the United States:
“Here’s the real deal, this is what gets me, we had the gays and lesbians that want to f–k each other in the a– and they come up with AIDS. The government spent tons of money on AIDS ok, it’s whatever is in the lime light. Ok so if they want to push that we are going to lose an entire generation, then they will spend money on some type of treatment. I understand just like being gay and lesbian is a f–king choice, so is doing drugs a choice. You spend all this money so they can f–k each other in the a–, what are you going to do with the kids on drugs [sic throughout]?”
He was also recorded complaining about the amount of non-white employees at a Verizon store, using the slur “towel head,” and complaining about citizens from India. “A white f–king American will be f–ked,” he said.
In another conversation, Nucera said the following about a 2016 presentation at the White House he was invited to:
“They had this other guest speaker, you know, a real ni–er, who spoke about equality, and how if a white person goes to the bank for a loan he might get a 2 percent interest rate and a black person with the same credit goes to the same bank for the same loan they may get 4 percent, I thought, that’s not my f–king problem, go to the f–king banks and ask them why they do that!”
Nucera was recorded discussing the 2016 presidential election, calling Donald Trump “the last hope for the f–king white people.” He also appeared to reference a rally for Hillary Clinton that included seven mothers of Black men killed by police, saying “The f–king guys, the father for the guy at the Orlando night club was sitting in the audience. She’ll sell the vote to whoever she can, Guatemalans, Russians, Nicaraguans, sp–s, blacks, you name it. He’s the last hope for the white people.”
Nucera plead not guilty to the charges against him. A trial date has not yet been set.