Mistrial declared again in hate crime case against former South Jersey police chief

Former Bordentown Police Chief Frank Nucera Jr.

Former Bordentown Police Chief Frank Nucera Jr. is pictured in a file photo. (File)

A judge has once again declared a mistrial in the federal case against a former South Jersey Police Chief.

The mistrial comes after more than 16 hours of deliberations over the course of three days. It is also the second time a jury has been deadlocked on the charges of hate crime assault and civil rights deprivation against Frank Nucera Jr., Bordentown Township’s former top cop.

Federal prosecutors had accused Nucera of slamming a handcuffed Black teenager into a metal door jamb during a September 2016 incident at the Ramada Inn on U.S. Route 206. Timothy Stroye, then 18, was arrested for trespassing at the property. The government alleged Nucera held a deep resentment towards Black people, which culminated in him attacking Stroye.

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Nucera was found guilty of lying to the FBI in the first trial in 2019, while the jury deadlocked on the two most serious charges. An appeal is still pending on the sole conviction.

When the jury notified U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler on Wednesday afternoon that it could not unanimously decide on a verdict, he called them back to the courtroom.

Once assembled, the judge told the jury he recognized the task before them.

“I’m going to ask a direct question,” he said. “Is there a possibility with further deliberations that you can reach a verdict?”

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With that, he sent the jury back to the room to come to a consensus on that question. Less than ten minutes later, the mostly white jury sent a note to Kugler that “no additional time” would result in a verdict on either count.

Rocco Cipparone, Nucera’s defense attorney, asked for a mistrial. The government did not object. Now, it must decide whether try convicting Nucera on the charges a third time. Federal prosecutors did not make any comments after the mistrial was declared.

Cipparone said he was not surprised by the outcome.

“I always thought there was reasonable doubt and obviously at least some of the jurors agree,” he said.

Nucera declined to comment on the outcome as left the courtroom. Cipparone said Nucera is feeling a “cautious sense of relief” that “this chapter is closed in terms of this trial and there’s a cautious hope that … it won’t go further.” He personally seconded that hope for his client’s sake.

“This has been five years of significant stress,” he said. “[Nucera’s] had a lot of health issues and it affects people.”

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