A New Jersey police officer was arrested after a 15-year-old girl he thought he was meeting up with turned out to be an undercover officer, officials said.
Howell Police Sgt. Richard Conte was arrested on Thursday, Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick said on the department’s Facebook page.
Conte was charged “with the heinous crime of attempting to lure after arriving to meet with a girl who he believed was 15 years old,” Kudrick wrote.
The “girl” was actually an undercover officer carrying out an investigation. Kudrick said he learned about the situation before Conte was arrested.
“It sickened me to learn one of my officers, a highly competent supervisor none the less and one that I have worked alongside with for many years on the SWAT team, not only defied my trust, but fellow officers as well,” he said. “But most importantly, defied the public’s trust and expectations of a police officer.”
Kudrick recommended Conte be suspended without pay, he said. The arrest took place while Conte was off-duty, but the department is investigating whether he may have “acted inappropriately” on-duty, Kudrick said.
“I offer my sincere apology to the community that we value and respect so deeply,” he added.
“I ask you not to judge us on the actions of one but rather on the outstanding service the remaining loyal officers provide with professionalism and pride every single day.”