Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says criminal charges have been filed against a detective with the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office after he allegedly conducted an unauthorized investigation into a minor car accident that involved a relative.

48-year-old Sgt. Robert P. Harkins, Jr., of Wildwood Crest, has been charged with third-degree conspiracy to tamper with public records or information and third-degree tampering with public records or information.

Grewal says in December, 2019, and January, 2020, "Harkins personally initiated and conducted an unauthorized investigation into a minor motor vehicle accident involving a relative in the parking lot of a store in Middle Township, specifically to identify the driver of the other vehicle, who left the scene without exchanging information. Harkins allegedly failed to record his official actions in CMCPO’s records management system, as required, and instead documented them with an outdated “general investigation report” to avoid review by his superiors."

Authorities also allege that Harkins, "without approval, permission or lawful authority," issued a subpoena to the store where the crash happened, he used his position with the prosecutor's office to send official requests for information to state agencies in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and then gave a 10-page report and documents to the Middle Township Police Department, according to a press release.

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Once they received the report, the Middle Township Police Department alerted the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office, which then referred the matter to the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA), which then sent it to detectives with the New Jersey State Police's corruption bureau.

Grewal says third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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