A judge on Friday postponed the sentencing and hate-crime assault retrial of former Bordentown Township Police Chief Frank Nucera Jr., who was injured in a January car accident, court records show.
Defense attorney Rocco Cipparone filed a motion Thursday seeking a delay because Nucera is undergoing physical therapy. Nucera was scheduled for sentencing Tuesday on a count of lying to the FBI. Jury selection was set for March 16 in his retrial on two remaining counts.
After a conference call with the lawyers Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler rescheduled sentencing for March 24 at 10:30 a.m. Nucera, who remains free on bail, could face up to five years in prison.
The trial was moved to Aug. 3.
Nucera, 62, faces trial on one count each of hate-crime assault and civil rights violations in a Sept. 1, 2016, incident at a Ramada Inn in Bordentown Township. Prosecutors alleged Nucera had a history of spewing racial hatred, including speaking about wanting to join a firing squad to mow down black people, comparing them to ISIS, and talking of sending police dogs to intimidate black spectators at high school basketball games.
A jury in October convicted Nucera on the lying charge. The panel of nine white and three black members was deadlocked on the remaining two charges after deliberating for 45 hours over eight days. Kugler declared a mistrial.
A veteran law enforcement officer, Nucera, who is white, was accused of using excessive force and denying the civil rights of a black teenager. A fellow officer testified that Nucera needlessly slammed the handcuffed teen’s head into a doorjamb.
During the trial, jurors heard Nucera on a recording telling a fellow officer that President Donald Trump was ”the last hope for white people” and expressing concern that 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would ”give in to all the minorities.” They also heard secretly made recordings that captured Nucera using slurs against blacks, Mexicans, and Asians.
In his motion, Cipparone wrote that Nucera and his wife were involved in a multi-car accident in January. Nucera suffered a torn rotator cuff, “has been under significant pain,” and may require surgery, he wrote.
Nucera resigned from the police force in January 2017 when he learned he was under investigation.
If convicted on the remaining two charges, he could face up to 20 years in prison and lose his $8,800-a-month pension. He earned $155,444 a year as both police chief and township administrator.