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Ex-Cop Accused of Mishandling 81 Internal Affairs Complaints Gets Two Years Probation

Most Charges Thrown Out in Plea Agreement with New County Prosectuor
Richard Rowe
Richard Rowe awaits processing after being sentenced by Judge Bradley Ferencz this morning. Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A former city police officer accused of mishandling 81 internal affairs complaints will not go to jail.

Instead, former head of internal affairs Richard Rowe was sentenced to two years on probation by Judge Bradley Ferencz this morning.  County prosecutor Andrew Carey gave up on prosecuting more serious charges and Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Mannion negotiated the guilty plea.

As we reported in 2011, the charges against Rowe were filed just two weeks after a New Brunswick officer with a history of complaints shot and killed an unarmed city resident in a Throop Avenue backyard.

Rowe's attorney Lawrence Bitterman said he was happy that the prosecutor's office agreed to a deal that threw out the charges of official misconduct, pattern of official misconduct, and tampering with records.

The only crime Rowe plead guilty to was obstruction of the administration of the law, according to court personnel.  Bitterman said Rowe was guilty because he failed to complete required reports in some of the case files.

Rowe joined the New Brunswick police force in 1990, the same year Mayor James Cahill was elected for the first time.  Rowe was eventually elevated to seargent, a position where he made an annual salary of $123,202.

Sgt. Rowe was also given a powerful assignment: running the internal investigations into his fellow officers on the NBPD.

Bitterman said Rowe was doing a job that was supposed to be done by two people, according to Attorney General's guidelines.  Lt. Peter Mangarella had already been assigned to another post, Bitterman said, leaving Rowe with more work than he could handle.

Under investigation, Rowe resigned in August 2011.  He now works  for an insurance company as a private investigator, according to Bitterman.

A grand jury thought enough of the allegations to indict Rowe in January 2012, but a new county prosecutor took office in March and backed off.

The charges were originally filed by longtime county prosecutor Bruce Kaplan, who abruptly left the job earlier this year.  He was replaced by Andrew Carey, an appointee of Governor Chris Christie, in May.

Bitterman said he requested that Carey review the charges against Rowe and reconsider.

"[Prosectuor Andrew] Carey concluded there was absolutely no evidence to support official misconduct, pattern of official misconduct, and tampering charges," Bitterman told New Brunswick Today.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office was on vacation and unavailable for comment.