A former Aberdeen Township police officer has been sentenced to nearly a year in jail for tampering with evidence on two separate occasions during 2021, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced on Sept. 9.
Philip M. Santiago, 35, was sentenced by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Jill O’Malley, sitting in Freehold, to 364 days in the Monmouth County jail, to be followed by three years of probation, with permanent exclusion from future public service in New Jersey, according to a press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
An investigation by the prosecutor’s office Professional Responsibility and Bias Crime Unit revealed that in January 2021, Santiago intentionally tampered with a law enforcement drug test he had been ordered to take by piercing the test with the pin on the back of his police badge, rendering the test unable to be processed.
The investigation further revealed that in May 2021, while on duty, Santiago deleted a video from a cell phone belonging to a suspect who was in custody, having just been arrested by members of the Aberdeen Township Police Department. The video depicted the interaction between the suspect and the officers leading up to his arrest.
Santiago was criminally charged and suspended from duty in September 2021, before eventually pleading guilty to two counts of fourth degree tampering with physical evidence. He had been sworn in as a police officer in 2018 after previously serving as an emergency dispatcher in Aberdeen Township, according to the press release.
“Using one’s badge, a symbol of public trust, to break the law, is an affront to all law enforcement officers who understand the duties and responsibilities that come with
wearing the badge,” Linskey said.
“There is no place in law enforcement for such conduct and this defendant’s actions are not representative of the vast majority of officers in Monmouth County who serve with honor and integrity,” she said.
“From the onset of this investigation, the Aberdeen Township Police Department worked in complete cooperation with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office,” Aberdeen Township Police Chief Matthew T. Lloyd said.
“We have zero tolerance for any actions that are contrary to our core values as trusted public servants of the residents of Aberdeen Township and of New Jersey as a whole,” he said.