PERTH AMBOY, NJ—Perth Amboy's embattled chief of police, Benjmain Ruiz, was arrested and charged for allegedly trespassing on May 31, adding to a litany of charges already levied against him.
Ruiz, the 54-year-old suspended police chief, was apprehended May 31 and accused of trespassing on the property of a Smith Street convenience store and impersonating a police officer when confronted by the store's owner and employees, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a press release.
Ruiz would later be released under his own supervision.
New Brunswick Today obtained the press release despite its recent removal from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office media list, the second time the publication has been blacklisted because of its adversarial coverage.
Ruiz, who was suspended without pay in December 2014 after he was charged in an unrelated case, was allegedly hiding outside of the convenience store to "watch an unidentified neighbor," the release states.
Ruiz had previously been confronted at the convenience store on multiple occasions between February 1 and May 18, repeatedly asserting that he was, in fact, a police officer, according to the prosecutor's office.
Ruiz's recent arrest comes after an indictment moved forward against him in September 2015.
Ruiz was indicted by a grand jury in February with two counts of official misconduct and theft of services for allegedly using public money to buy parts for his personal motorcycle, as well as ordering repairs to both his car and a friend's at Perth Amboy's municipal garage.
The indictment also included one count of witness tampering, which Home News Tribune reporter Sergio Bichao first covered in detail last year:
"[P]rosecutors pointed to statements by police Sgt. Andy Montalvo, who said Ruiz texted and called him in January after he was charged with the theft.
"Montalvo said Ruiz alluded to personal ramifications Ruiz suffered after testifying on Montalvo’s behalf in a previous incident. It was not clear from court records what incident he was referring to.
"'Do you remember, years ago, when I had to testify on your behalf? And, there was an incident where, after I had done that, the current chief of police at the time found that to be unfavorable?' Ruiz allegedly told Montalvo.
"Ruiz then asked Montalvo: 'Do you remember me telling you to tow it to my mother’s house, and you took it upon yourself to have it towed to the police department … out of the kindness of your heart?'
"'No, that’s not true,' Montalvo allegedly responded. Montalvo told an investigator that Ruiz had asked him to contact the municipal tow-truck operator to take his classic 1964 Ford Mustang, which had broken down during a parade, to the municipal garage for repairs.
"'So, you don’t remember me telling you to take it to my mother’s house and that’s where I wanted the car to go?' Ruiz allegedly pressed.
"'No, that is not what happened that night,' Montalvo reportedly said."
The indictment against Ruiz is still moving forward in court. Ruiz, who began working as a Perth Amboy police officer on May 23, 1988, was appointed chief on September 10, 2012 by Mayor Wilda Diaz. Larry Cattano has been acting chief of police since Ruiz's suspension.
The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-745-3300.