PoliceOne Staff Report (HACKENSACK, N.J.) -- The sheriff of Bergen County, about whom controversy and allegations have swirled for months, pleaded guilty yesterday to corruption charges, which included forcing members of his department to sell fund-raising tickets in return for promotions, transfers and jobs.
Former Sheriff Joseph L. Ciccone, who rose from a small-town police sergeant to being elected to head the state's second largest county sheriff's department, entered the guilty plea in a Morris County courtroom and was forced to resign immediately from office.
By pleading guilty, Ciccone avoided a prison sentence and is expected to be given probation at a March 30 sentencing hearing. However, as part of the deal, Ciccone had to read a two-and-a-half page statement to the court detailing his crimes and has also agreed to cooperate in a continuing investigation of the department.
Prosecutors portrayed Ciccone as a corrupt sheriff who shook down businessmen, ran jobs-for-campaign-cash schemes, falsified campaign reports and even sold phony police badges to civilians in return for thousands of dollars to add to his campaign war chest, the Bergen Record reported.