Former Police Chief Facing Hate Crime Charges After Allegedly Ramming Handcuffed Man Into Door

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Federal hate crime charges have been filed against the former longtime chief of the Bordentown Police Department.

Frank Nucera, Jr., 60, was arrested without incident this morning at his home. He is facing two counts, stemming from an incident last year in which a young, handcuffed black man was rammed into a door during an arrest.

Nucera is also accused of repeatedly using racial slurs, mostly variations of the N-word in referring to African-Americans and allegedly targeting them for enhanced police attention. That attention is said to have included using police dogs at events African-Americans would attend as an intimidation technique.

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The charges are part of an 11-page criminal complaint released by William Fitzpatrick, Acting U.S. Attorney for New Jersey.

“This is a crime that was identified by the Bordentown Township Police Department who saw what was going on, knew it was wrong, had enough and called the FBI,” Fitzpatrick told KYW Newsradio.

Officials suggest the allegations against Nucera cast a pall on all police in New Jersey.

“The overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers in the state of New Jersey know that their job is to uphold and obey the law,” said FBI Special Agent In Charge Tim Gallagher. “Those who choose to use their authority to discriminate against individuals will be treated as criminals and arrested and prosecuted as such.”

Nucera, who retired from the Bordentown force earlier this year, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on one hate crime count and another alleging deprivation of rights under color of law.

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He was released after a hearing before a Camden federal judge on a half million dollar unsecured bond. Nucera was ordered to surrender all weapons and firearms permits and not to apply for a new passport.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina, in a printed statement, said, “We are sickened by the allegations and hateful comments that underlie these charges. There is no place for these sentiments or actions in our society, and they most definitely do not reflect the ideals of the law enforcement community across Burlington County.”

That sentiment was echoed by Bordentown Mayor Steve Benowitz in a press release. He said, “These charges are limited to one person and are not indicative of the Bordentown Police Department or the Township as a whole. The specifics of the charges, all of which we are hearing and reading for the first time, are abhorrent, and the Township fully supports the U.S. Attorney in this process.”

New Jersey’s NAACP says police departments everywhere need to show resolve eliminating racism.

“We asked that other police officer would have the strength of character to step up, especially when it’s a police chief,” said Bruce Davis, with the NAACP New Jersey State Conference.

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