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PERTH AMBOY, NJ–The City of Perth Amboy has officially cut former Chief of Police Benjamin Ruiz loose.
The announcement that Mayor Wilda Diaz's administration terminated Ruiz came shortly after the former chief was brought up on additional charges, expanding the scope of the allegations against him.
Ruiz, who had been suspended without pay since December 2014, was indicted on charges of official misconduct, theft of services, and witness tampering 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.
On May 31, Ruiz was arrested on unrelated charges of trespassing and impersonating a police officer, after he was confronted by the owner and employees of a convenience store on Smith Street.
According to a press release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, Ruiz had been confronted at the store several times between February 1 and May 18, and suggested he was there to "watch an unidentified neighbor." He was released under his own supervision following the arrest.
Perth Amboy's Business Administrator Adam E. Cruz said in a statement that the city and the police department decided to fire Ruiz because the ongoing scandal is damaging the integrity of local institutions.
"After much deliberation, the Administration has decided to terminate Benjamin Ruiz as the Chief of Police of the Perth Amboy Police Department in accordance to the NJ Civil Servie Commission rules and regulations, effective June 7, 2016," Cruz said. "In order to protect the integrity of the police department, we will need to move forward.
"It is important to know that the Perth Amboy Police Department has always operated in the utmost professionalism and conduct, and will continue to serve the residents of the City of Perth Amboy," he added.
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 into the allegations against Ruiz is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-745-3300.