Former N.J. police chief charged with beating prisoner, hate crime

Acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick (right) and FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher outline charges against former Bordentown Township Police Chief Frank Nucera. (Tom MacDonald, WHYY)

Acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick (right) and FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher outline charges against former Bordentown Township Police Chief Frank Nucera. (Tom MacDonald, WHYY)

A former Bordentown Township, New Jersey, police chief is facing federal criminal charges, including committing a hate crime.

Allegations against former Chief Frank Nucera include assaulting an African-American suspect while he was restrained and in custody, said acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick.

“The complaint alleges the defendant harbored an intense racial animus towards African-Americans, and, on Sept. 1, 2016, that senseless and bigoted hatred led to the unlawful assault of a handcuffed and defenseless prisoner,” Fitzpatrick said.

The chief, who retired suddenly in January, had an ongoing pattern of using racial slurs to describe African-Americans, he said.

“Former Chief Nucera chose to assault that person for no reason other than what he was driven by his racial hatred,” Fitzpatrick  said.

The man beaten in custody did not suffer long-term injuries, authorities said.

Timothy Gallagher, special agent in charge, said the FBI put a lot of time in on the case.

“The investigation of hate crimes is among the highest priorities to the FBI because hate crimes not only target individuals and intentionally inflict harm among them, it attempts to intimidate entire communities,” he said.

Nucera is accused of using police dogs to intimidate African-Americans at high school basketball games and during patrols at specific apartment complexes.  If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

When Nucera abruptly retired in January, town officials did not explain why, citing it as a personnel matter. But even then, reports were surfacing that he was under investigation.

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