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Jersey City police officers win court victory in falsifying records case when cell phone data proves inconsistent and incomplete

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A New Jersey judge has shot holes in a county prosecutor’s case against three Jersey City Police officers, ruling that cell phone records are unreliable and inadmissible as evidence.

Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mirtha Ospina ruled that phone records could not be used against JCPD officers Joseph Ascolese, Kelly Chesler and Michael O’Neill, who were accused of falsifying timesheets and duty pay.

Chesler’s attorney, Jeffrey Garrigan, called Ospina’s decision “a significant victory” for the defense.

One of the key catalysts for the ruling is the fact that prosecutors did not seek a second set of phone location records before the aforementioned records were destroyed by Verizon.

“We believe it was the right decision,” Garrigan said. “These records were not reliable and should not be used in this trial.”

According to NJ.com, Prosecutors sent up a 107-count indictment against the three cops plus a fourth officer, Michael Maietti, in June of 2016. The indictment involved a conspiracy to falsify timesheets to get paid for work not performed during a three-month period in 2014.

Since the case began, two of the officers, Ascolese and Maietti, have since retired.

Verizon Wireless records custodian Renata Lewis had initially testified that the records offered a general sense of where the officers were at the times of the phone calls, but backtracked after Garrigan offered records that appeared to show Chesler made one phone call in Mahwah and another one in Flanders within four minutes. The towns are nearly 50 miles away from each other.

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