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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Scott Campion, one of three public employees arrested in a 2013 NJ State Police takedown of a cocaine and weapons sales operation, resigned his job as a dispatcher at the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office on March 20, 2015.
It was the second time he had resigned from the law enforcement agency, according to multiple sources. The first time he left the department, he was forced to give up his badge and gun, after pointing that gun at a waitress in an Edison restaurant.
Campion, once an officer in the same Department, is also the son of David R. Campion, longtime leader of Middlesex County’s Roads Department.
Scott Campion was hired as a Sheriff’s officer, and then re-hired again as a dispatcher, under the tenure of notoriously corrupt Sheriff Joseph Spicuzzo.
Campion’s most recent arrest was announced alongside arrests of two other public employees: New Brunswick’s longtime Chief Housing Inspector Michael Mahony and a laborer with the North Brunswick Department of Public Works.
Both men pleaded guilty after accepting a plea bargain, and while Chief Housing Inspector Mike Mahony agreed never to hold a public job again, laborer Michael Vitanza was cleared to return to his job.
But more than two years after the three men, and seven others, were pinched, it’s still not clear which law enforcement agency is prosecuting Campion, if any.
State Police dubbed the mission “Operation: Smokescreen,” and announced they seized a total of 22 illegal weapons, 14 legal weapons, 1.5 kilos of cocaine, 12 ounces of MDMA, two pounds of marijuana, several other illegal drugs, and a pick-up truck.
Because the case was done by State Police, the NJ Attorney General’s Office took the lead on prosecuting Mahony, Vitanza, and several other defendants including one New Brunswick landlord who is expected to spend time in jail.
The landlord, Paul Cano, pled guilty to first-degree distribution of cocaine and possession of an assault rifle on March 23, according to a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office. His sentencing keeps getting pushed back, as we reported, and it is now scheduled for April 11.
Authorities have vasilated between saying Campion’s case will be handled by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO), or perhaps end up on municipal court as a “disorderly persons” case.
But municipal court officials have repeatedly referred questions about the case to higher powers, and the MCPO keeps saying they don’t think it’s their case.
According to the Attorney General’s Office press release, Campion faces charges of “Loitering to Commit [controlled dangerous substance (CDS)] Offense” and “Conspiracy to Possess CDS.”
One year later, as the Mahony and Vitanza cases were wrapping up, New Brunswick Today asked if Campion’s case would be handled in a different county.
Mahony’s case had been transferred to Monmouth County, but Vitanza’s was held in Middlesex County.
“Mahony belonged to a club or fraternal organization whose members include certain judges in Middlesex County, so his case was moved to avoid any conflict, real or perceived,” explained Peter Aseltine, a spokesperson for the NJ Attorney General’s Office in February 2015.
“Campion is charged with a disorderly persons offense and his case is now being handled by the county prosecutor’s office,” Aseltine continued. “It might be venued in New Brunswick Municipal Court since it is disorderly persons case.”
On May 22, Aseltine confirmed the case was no longer under his office’s jurisdiction.
“The Campion case was sent to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office for disposition on February 3, 2015,” wrote Aseltine. “They likely sent it to municipal court, but you would need to get those details from the prosecutor’s office, since they handled it from that date forward.”
On June 1, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office seemed to confirm they were in the driver’s seat.
“It is a disorderly persons case. Charge is pending, but it may be going to municipal court,” wrote James O’Neill.
The State Police operation may be a sore subject for O’Neill, a former “exalted ruler” of the New Brunswick Elks Lodge, the same fraternal club Aseltine referenced in his explanation of why Mahony’s case was moved to Monmouth county. Mahony was the organization’s treasurer.
New Brunswick Today tried to follow up with New Brunswick Municipal Court, which eventually revealed Campion had been charged in North Brunswick, not New Brunswick.
“Is it possible that it was remanded to North Brunswick instead of New Brunswick?” asked this reporter on June 23.
“I believe that is correct,” responded New Brunswick Court Administrator Kim Milligan. “It looks like he was charged in North Brunswick.”
But this reporter was again stonewalled after inquiring with that community’s court.
On July 14, we asked North Brunswick’s Court when Campion’s next scheduled court appearance was. No answer.
We followed up on July 28, and two days later, we were referred back to the MCPO.
“This case was transferred to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office. North Brunswick Court does not have jurisdiction of the case any longer,” said Court Administrator Sheral Rossman.
After questioning what was going on, New Brunswick Today got another response from Rossman on August 12: “I have pulled my case file and also checked my computer status again and I still show this case at the prosecutors office. I do not have any paper work from the county showing this case was returned to my court.”
On August 19, Rossman referred us even further back, all the way to the agency where the case first started: the NJ Attorney General’s Office.
“Please check with Deputy Attorney General Michael Klein for all information concerning this case. As I explained this case is not in our court,” wrote Rossman.
But the AG’s Office maintained it had already handed off the case to the MCPO, along with cases against Richard Murphy, Robert Blume, and John Allegro.
“Campion, Murphy, Blume, and Allegro are being handled by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Any questions on them need to be directed to the prosecutor’s office,” said the AG’s spokesman on September 16.
But on November 2, O’Neill issued a statement on behalf of the MCPO that contradicted the AG’s Office.
“The case involving these defendants is not being handled by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office,” wrote O’Neill, after being asked for an update on their status.
O’Neill and Prosecutor Andrew Carey did not respond to repeated inquiries for months, ignoring questions submitted on November 25, December 4, January 28, and January 30.
The Attorney General’s Office insists the case in now in MCPO’s hands, confirming the referral as recently as January 28.
On February 1, O’Neill finally responded: “I don’t think this was our case, but I will check and let you know.”
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.