Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sussex Corrections Lieutenant forfeits pension over steroid charges.

At its March 14, 2016 meeting, the Police and Firemen's Retirement System (PFRS) Board of Trustees voted to totally forfeit a former Sussex County Corrections Lieutenant's pension benefits because of his "egregious misconduct" of "purchas[ing] illegal steroids for personal use on multiple occasions, and allowing the ongoing sale of such substances on the premises of Sussex County Jail."

The story of steroid use at the Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility was first reported by the New Jersey Herald's Bruce A. Scruton in his July 8, 2015 article "Corrections officer suspended after steroid use."  That article, covered the March 2015 arrest of Kevin Cole on steroid and hypodermic needle possession charges.  The article indicated that two other corrections officers were under investigation, but County officials declined to name those officials at that time.

The PFRS minutes, however, show that one of the other officers was Lieutenant Christopher Lynch.  According to the minutes, Lynch "purchased steroids for his personal use from the other officer, and at least once purchased the drugs on the Correctional Facility property." 

The minutes reference an August 10, 2015 settlement agreement between Lynch and the Sussex County Sheriff's Office.  According to the agreement, Lynch tested positive for steroids, was suspended without pay and agreed to be barred from future law enforcement employment in New Jersey.  Lynch also agreed to cooperate in the investigation of charges against other Sheriff's Office employees.

In his response to an Open Public Record Act request, Undersheriff Lee Liddy wrote that Lynch's salary was $109,591 and that he worked for the County from November 15, 1999 until his termination on August 10, 2015.  The PFRS minutes indicate that Lynch was suspended without pay on April 10, 2015.  No criminal charges were brought against Lynch.

Liddy declined to identify the second officer who was, according to Scruton's article, under investigation for steroid use or possession.  In his August 31, 2016 OPRA response, he wrote "there was no separation for the second officer suspended therefore N.J.S.A. 47:1A-10 does not apply, and their Personnel Record is otherwise exempt under N.J.S.A. 47:1A-10.  Therefore, I must deny the request regarding the second officer’s records."