A Union County Police Department officer has been charged with stealing items from department stores in four different towns on various dates earlier this year, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.
Blake Clay, 33, of Rahway is charged with third-degree theft.
An investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit revealed that Clay allegedly visited Walmart and Target department stores in Clark, Edison, Linden, and Woodbridge during various dates and times from early February through late April and used counterfeit barcodes of his own creation to significantly lower the prices of various items when they would be rung up at the register. This meant he allegedly repeatedly paid amounts of $1.50 to $4.50 for items ranging in price from $15.99 to $39.99.
The total value of the alleged theft amounted to a little more than $675.
Clay was served the charges via summons Thursday afternoon, and he was suspended without pay pending the adjudication of the case. He is scheduled to appear in court for a first appearance on Wednesday, May 25.
Convictions at trial on third-degree charges are commonly punishable by 3 to 5 years in state prison.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.