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NJ Lieutenant Arrested for Stealing Cocaine, Fentanyl From Evidence Room: ‘Brazen Disregard of the Law’


TRENTON, NJ (NYAG) — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) today announced the filing of criminal charges against a cwith the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office (BCPO), after he allegedly removed narcotics evidence from storage without lawful authorization, later returned the drugs in conditions substantially different than when he signed the evidence out, kept razor blades with cocaine residue in his office, and structured cash deposits at banks in order to avoid transaction reporting requirements.

Kevin T. Matthew, 47, of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, has been charged with official misconduct, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, and structuring financial transactions. Matthew has been on leave from the BCPO since November 3, 2023.

The charges are a result of an investigation by OPIA’s Corruption Bureau. The charges and allegations are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

“As alleged, the defendant’s conduct constitutes a shocking and brazen disregard of the law by a high-ranking officer who was sworn to uphold the law,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Serving in law enforcement is a position of public trust. If officers illegally break that trust, we will hold them accountable.”

“The law applies to everyone, including those who wear the badge,” said Thomas J. Eicher, Executive Director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. “We are committed to strengthening the public’s faith in law enforcement and in the criminal justice system, and to taking action against officers whose alleged conduct damages communities’ trust and relationships with New Jersey’s courageous, self-sacrificing men and women in uniform.”

According to the investigation, Matthew was a member of the BCPO’s Special Victims Unit, not a narcotics unit. But the investigation revealed that he searched for drug cases in police databases and signed out narcotics from the main evidence vault of the BCPO’s office in Paramus.

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It is alleged that Matthew signed out items of narcotics evidence between October 2022 and November 2023, even though he lacked any authorized purpose to access narcotics evidence as part of his job duties. The investigation found that he took custody of numerous items that had tested positive at the New Jersey State Police Lab for cocaine and fentanyl.

The investigation further found that Matthew was observed coming and going from the BCPO office carrying bags of a size sufficient to contain the narcotics he had signed out. He allegedly held evidence outside approved storage areas, and on November 2, 2023, failed to place evidence into an approved temporary storage area until after allegations were made about his suspected mishandling of the drugs.

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Some items were returned to the vault in conditions substantially different than when they were signed out, but the lieutenant allegedly tried presenting them as being the same evidence he had removed from storage.

According to the investigation, two razor blades were subsequently found in Matthew’s office at the BCPO, and they tested positive for the presence of cocaine. Razor blades are commonly used in the distribution and use of cocaine.

It is alleged that the lieutenant’s conduct has impaired the evidentiary chain of custody and the items’ reliability as evidence in criminal prosecutions.

Moreover, a review of the defendant’s bank records revealed that during the approximate time period when the evidence was being improperly removed from the vault, there was allegedly a series of cash deposits at various financial institutions, spread out across diverse dates. As alleged, the pattern of deposits indicates an intention to avoid the banks’ federal requirement to report cash transactions in excess of $10,000 aggregated daily.

The investigation is ongoing.

Matthew is charged with the following:

  • Official misconduct — 2nd degree (two counts)
  • Tampering with public records or information — 3rd degree
  • Structuring financial transactions — 3rd degree
  • Possession of a controlled dangerous substance — 3rd degree (two counts)
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia (a disorderly persons offense)

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

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