South Brunswick police officer named in Attorney General’s discipline report

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SOUTH BRUNSWICK – A South Brunswick police officer is named in the Major Discipline report released by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office released information on Aug. 10 regarding New Jersey law enforcement officers who were subject to major discipline between June 15 and Dec. 31, 2020.
The information is being released in compliance with Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive 2021-6, which former Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal issued two months ago in light of this summer’s New Jersey Supreme Court decision authorizing the public release of certain police disciplinary information on a going-forward basis, according to information provided by the Attorney General’s Office.
In South Brunswick, Officer Ricardo Moreira was suspended for 30 days during that timeframe.
According to the report, “Officer Ricardo Moreira, a nine-year veteran, was suspended for 30 days in 2020. An internal affairs investigation determined Officer Moreira violated department rules, specifically, performance of duty and neglect of duty for leaving a scheduled training assignment to attend an unauthorized meeting and for leaving work early without prior approval.”

“The New Jersey Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the State of New Jersey as per the Criminal Justice Act of 1970. NJ Attorney General Directive 2021 – 6,  mandated that every agency release the names of any officer that received major discipline from June 15, 2020 or thereafter. We are complying with that directive,” South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka said. “We have no comment regarding Officer Ricardo Moreira.”

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Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck made the following statement regarding the release of the information.

“Today, New Jersey takes an important step forward, joining the majority of U.S. states that disclose the identities of law enforcement officers found responsible for engaging in serious disciplinary violations.
“We are releasing this information not to shame or embarrass individual officers, but to provide the same type of transparency and accountability in policing that New Jersey mandates in other essential professions.
“The vast majority of New Jersey’s law enforcement officers serve the public with honor and integrity, doing the right thing day in and day out for the communities they serve, so I take no joy in putting this information out.
“But we are doing this because it is an important and necessary step to build greater public trust while promoting professionalism in law enforcement,” Bruck said in the statement.
Under AG Directive 2021-6, all New Jersey law enforcement agencies are required to publish online and provide to the Attorney General’s Office the names of any officers who were subject to “major discipline” – that is, terminated, demoted, or suspended for more than five days – during the relevant reporting period.
Going forward, agencies will be required to release this information on an annual basis, shortly after the end of the calendar year.
The information regarding the Major Discipline report is available at njoag.gov/majordiscipline

However, Moreira’s suspension is not without dispute. Moreira filed a complaint against South Brunswick and South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka alleging claims of retaliation earlier this year. 

The lawsuit filed on Jan. 28 claims Hayducka has asked officers to dismiss tickets that were issued to certain individuals.

Moreira said he was personally solicited by Hayducka on at least one occasion to dismiss a ticket, and reported that Hayducka had allegedly “engaged in a pattern and practice of soliciting officers to dismiss tickets issued to friends and favored individuals,” according to the lawsuit.

Moreira claims Hayducka fostered a culture of retaliation against employees who engaged in CEPA-protected conduct within the police department “and set a tone for his subordinates that such retaliation was appropriate and encouraged,” according to the lawsuit.

On June 1, 2020, Moreira states, he was advised the prosecutor’s office had completed its investigation and took no action against Hayducka.

He said on or about June 23, he was instructed to report to Hayducka’s office, where his badge and gun were taken from him, and that without any examination by a medical professional he was told he was a “hazard” and “unfit for duty” and placed on immediate suspension, according to the lawsuit.

He said he was referred back to the prosecutor’s office regarding allegations he had lied during a disciplinary hearing.

On July 13, Moreira claims, while he was suspended, two lieutenants came to his residence and told him to speak with a captain, even though he said he had been ordered by Hayducka not to speak with anyone from the police department.

He said he was served with notice of an internal affairs investigation for failure to answer his phone despite the warnings.

On July 30, during the police union’s quarterly meeting at Rowland Park in South Brunswick, Moreira said he attended the meeting to pick up a form for his pending disciplinary action, but alleged the PBA president publicly stated that no one from the union should speak to him or another patrolman because they were found guilty of lying.

Moreira said the PBA president threatened that anyone who spoke with them would be indicted, arrested and/or suspended, according to reports.

Moreira’s suspension ended on Sept. 11 after the prosecutor’s office declined to pursue the allegation of lying made against him, according to the document. Moreira said he was then placed on administrative leave.

Moreira said he made a formal report of retaliatory harassment and a hostile work environment to a captain on or about Oct. 13, against South Brunswick, Hayducka and the PBA president.

He said he had been subjected to a bogus charge of a 30-day suspension without pay. There are other charges pending, he said in the lawsuit.

Jack Venturi, Hayducka’s lawyer, said this is a “bogus lawsuit” filed by an officer who has received numerous disciplines in the past. Venturi alleged Moreira knew he was going to be terminated, so he filed the lawsuit in advance.

There is no trial date set at this time.

Moreira’s lawyer, Sebastian B. Ionno of Ionno & Higbee, of Pittman, could not be reached by press time.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com

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