A Union County jury has returned guilty verdicts on several charges filed against a former Plainfield Police Sergeant who exploited her position to further a scheme to steal money from the City and citizens of Plainfield by falsifying work records in order to fraudulently obtain unearned pay, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel announced today.
Leslie Knight, 51, of Plainfield was found guilty Tuesday on several counts of both third and fourth-degree theft by deception and one charge of falsifying records, a fourth-degree crime, following a two-week trial before Union County Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch and five hours of jury deliberation. The jury found her not guilty on one count of official misconduct and six additional counts of theft.
An investigation which began in the Plainfield Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit, and was subsequently referred to and taken over by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit, revealed that for an eighteen month period between 2012 and 2013, Knight — who was then a Sergeant in the department’s Administrative Bureau and had been employed by the Department since 2001 – “purposely submitted false requests for overtime and extra-duty job payments that overlapped with each other, and also with her regular duty hours, resulting in her pocketing double and sometimes triple payments from the City of Plainfield for the same hours”, according to Assistant Prosecutors Robert Rosenthal and Christopher Desimone who prosecuted the case. The value of the thefts for which Knight was found guilty amounted to more than $1,100, they added.
Knight was initially charged in September of 2014 and indicted by a Union County Grand Jury in August of the following year. In 2019, Knight pled guilty to a disorderly persons offense, agreed to forfeit her public employment and pay restitution. Knight later successfully moved to withdraw her guilty plea, and the matter was set for trial. Knight had been was suspended without pay while awaiting the outcome of the case.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Friday, March 11, 2022 before Judge Kirsch, at which time Knight can face a sentence of up to six-and-a half years in state prison, be ordered to pay restitution, and be permanently barred from future public employment in New Jersey.