Former sheriff charged with bribery in N.J.

    The former sheriff in Middlesex County, New Jersey, has been arrested on charges of bribery and a pattern of official misconduct.

    Joseph Spicuzzo, 65, is accused of demanding bribes of up to $25,000 from people hoping to be hired as investigators or seeking a promotion in the sheriff’s office.

    Attorney General Paula Dow says Spicuzzo used his power for his own personal interests.

    “People who want to serve and succeed in his office had to pay Spicuzzo cash tribute. By allegedly taking bribes, he violated the law in the most cynical way possible,” said Dow. “He sold out the public’s trust.”

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    New Jersey Criminal Justice Director Stephen Taylor alleges Spicuzzo demanded the bribes to supplement his $126,000 a year sheriff’s salary.

    “We allege that Joseph Spicuzzo repeatedly sold positions within the office by soliciting bribes from people as a quid pro quo for hiring or promotion them,” said Taylor. “Official misconduct does not get much more audacious than that.”

    Charges have not been filed against three people authorities say paid those bribes to Spicuzzo. He stepped down as sheriff in December, citing health reasons.

    Just hours after his arrest, he resigned as chairman of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization.

    If convicted, he could face at least 10 years in prison.

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