Two Edison police officers in New Jersey continue to draw large salaries more than a year after they were suspended amid misconduct allegations.
Patrolmen Anthony Sarni, who earns $120,000 annually, and David Pedana, who makes $89,000, were suspended in October 2013 over unrelated episodes of alleged impropriety .
Sarni, while still in uniform after the completion of his shift, returned to the scene of a 911 call at an Edison hotel, where he allegedly tried to coerce a woman to have sex with him. The woman rebuffed the 40-year-old officer and filed a complaint.
Pedana, 35, is accused of sending text messages that contained numerous racial epithets, including some directed at fellow officers.
Township officials signaled their intention to fire the two in May of this year, sending the officers letters saying they were entitled to defend themselves at departmental disciplinary hearings.
But those hearings, akin to trials, have yet to take place. Moreover, they haven’t even been scheduled, according to members of the department.
Under state rules, police officers must continue to receive pay while suspended unless they’re charged with a duty-related fourth-degree crime, a crime of the third degree or higher, or a crime of moral turpitude. While Sarni and Pedana face multiple administrative counts, they were not charged with crimes.
“My God, that’s a good gig if you can get it,” Edison Councilman Wayne Mascola said. “We’re not talking chump change here. We all know what kind of money these officers make. Something has to be done for the taxpayers’ sake.”
Mascola added that because he didn’t know what kind of evidence exists against the officers, he wasn’t advocating for their dismissal. But he urged Mayor Thomas Lankey, the township’s public safety director, to move more swiftly in scheduling disciplinary hearings.
“A decision has to be made, and we have to move on,” Mascola said. “It’s been 13 months. Why are we waiting around on this?”
Sarni and Pedana are among at least six Edison officers out on suspension.