A Hackensack policeman was charged Mar. 8 with stealing more than $75,000 from police union funds, including money for the widows and orphans of slain officers. Allegedly, Kevin Schneider, who oversaw the several union funds as treasurer for seven years, used the money during the past four years to finance his gambling forays at the Meadowlands Racetrack and casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Much of the money allegedly came out of the Policemen’s Benevolent Ass’n Local 9’s death-benefits fund, which helps families after officers die. Reportedly, Schneider has almost totally depleted the fund. He also allegedly ravaged Local 9’s general-operating fund, contract negotiating fund, golf-outing fund, and a fund to build an in-line skating park for city youngsters.
“I’m devastated,” said Local 9 president Philip Carroll, who discovered discrepancies in the local’s books only a week before the charges were brought. Schneider started stealing from the local in 1998 and took an increasing amount of money every year since to fund his gambling habit, said Police Chief Ken Zisa. “[This was] a total shock to us. He was hiding it very well,” Zisa said. Investigators said the boss operated alone. Carroll confessed that he wasn’t sure why the dwindling accounts weren’t discovered sooner.
The alleged crimes began to unravel after Carroll, who took over as president six months ago, started looking at the local’s books as his new administration prepared for an internal audit. Carroll talked with Schneider about the accounts and “didn’t like the answers he got,” Zisa said. Carroll asked Schneider to show him the local’s books, but for a couple of days, Schneider avoided him. Carroll told Zisa, and Zisa subsequently told the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. When Schneider finally brought the local’s books to the police station Mar. 5, he was joined by his attorney.
Investigators reportedly discovered a mounting list of withdrawals that Schneider either made out to cash or directly to himself. Police photographed, fingerprinted, and released Schneider on his own recognizance. His charge of theft of more than $75,000 is a second-degree crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000. Zisa suspended him with pay on Mar. 5 and then suspended him without pay after he was charged on Mar. 8. Zisa said an administrative hearing will be scheduled at which Zisa will seek to remove Schneider from the force. Carroll said the local is working to find out exactly what’s left of its accounts and then will start to rebuild with fundraisers. [Record (Bergen Co., N.J.) 3/9/02]