A federal judge on Monday refused to again delay sentencing for ex-Bordentown Township Police Chief Frank Nucera Jr. for lying to the FBI almost five years ago as it investigated hate-crime claims against him.
U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler denied a motion by defense attorney Rocco Cipparone to push back sentencing for several more months, citing Nucera’s health problems. Nucera will be sentenced Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Camden.
“We will go forth as scheduled,” Kugler ruled.
During a brief virtual hearing, Kugler heard testimony from Katrina Gould, a family physician in Robbinsville who began treating Nucera, 64, after a bout with the coronavirus in February. Nucera suffers from mild high blood pressure, blood clots, and “brain fog,” a common symptom in COVID patients that could affect memory, she said.
“The prudent course is to postpone sentencing,” Cipparone argued.
Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Lorber, Gould said Nucera has been able to participate in conversations during office visits with her. Gould said she has not conducted any cognitive tests to assess his mental status.
Lorber opposed delaying the sentencing, arguing that Nucera was capable of participating “in a meaningful way,” despite his health problems and back pains.
During the hearing, Nucera offered little comment except in response to questions from Kugler. Gould said she did not believe Nucera was exaggerating his symptoms.
Nucera’s sentencing has been delayed several times since a jury in October 2019 convicted Nucera of lying when he told the FBI that he did not strike a handcuffed Black teenage suspect at a Bordentown hotel in 2016.
Authorities said that the alleged assault was part of a wider pattern and that Nucera had a history of making racist remarks about Blacks in the predominantly white community of about 11,000, speaking about joining a firing squad to mow them down and comparing them to ISIS.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Nucera faces 10 to 16 months in prison on the lying charge.
In his sentencing memorandum, Cipparone has asked Kugler for leniency, saying the statements Nucera made were out of character. He requested one year’s probation.
Lorber asked Kugler to impose between 46 and 57 months, saying the circumstances warrant a higher sentence because Nucera was a police chief at the time.
Nucera still faces a retrial on two remaining counts of hate-crime assault and deprivation of civil rights after the jury was deadlocked during the first trial. He could face up to 10 years in prison on each count, if convicted. A date has not been set. Nucera remains free on bond.