A former New Jersey police officer was sentenced today to three years in prison for stealing more than half a million cigarettes and extorting $20,000 from an undercover FBI agent he thought was a drug courier.
Mario Rodriguez, 40, was an officer in the Jersey City Police Department on July 3, 2013, when he drove to a Secaucus warehouse with an accomplice, broke into a trailer with a bolt-cutter, and stole 600,000 cigarettes and several television sets, federal authorities said.
The pair then drove to Staten Island, where they met with a friend of the accomplice, who was actually an undercover officer. Rodriguez took a $5,000 payment for the cigarettes and kept three of the TVs.
During another meeting with the undercover agent on July 10, Rodriguez conspired to rob a drug courier, who in reality was yet another undercover officer. The second undercover officer told Rodriguez the "drug courier" would sell them $20,000 worth of cocaine in a Jersey City parking lot.
The parking lot was under surveillance as Rodriguez drove up. Rodriguez approached the "drug courier" who was waiting with another man. Rodriguez identified himself as a police officer and pretended to arrest the man, threatened to arrest the drug courier, and took the cash, federal authorities said.