State authorities on Monday accused Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler of ordering police officers on duty to guide escorts for his funeral home in departmental vehicles.
The Bergen District Attorney’s Office then temporarily took control of the day-to-day operations of the Saddle Brook Police Department, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Kugler, 59, of Saddle Brook, received a subpoena indicting conspiracy, official misconduct and corruption of public resources, Grewal said. A hearing was still pending.
He was also suspended for payment until the case was resolved.
Kugler could not be reached immediately for comment.
“I am shocked at the gravity of the charges,” said Mayor Robert White, a retired assistant police chief. “He was the boss for a long time and did a great job for us for many, many years.
“Like any other defendant, he is innocent until proven guilty,” said the mayor.
Kugler – who had declared another run for the Bergen County Sheriff – ordered the uniformed escort during their regular shift to cemeteries inside and outside Saddle Brook for his Kugler funeral home in January 2019 and August 2020, the attorney general said.
“The use of police vehicles for escort services is prohibited by township ordinance, with the exception of escorts for the Saddle Brook municipal government or nonprofits,” Grewal said. “Kugler Funeral Home did not reimburse the Saddle Brook Community for escorts.”
“From today [Monday, March 8]The Bergen District Attorney’s Office has taken over the day-to-day operations of the Saddle Brook Police Department, “added the Attorney General.
Bergen District Attorney’s chief detective Robert Anzilotti will be the officer in charge for the time being, District Attorney Mark Musella said.
Kugler has been with the Saddle Brook Police Department for 35 years, including 25 years as chief.
He announced in January that he was seeking the Republican nomination for another shot at the sheriff after losing to Democrat Anthony Cureton in 2018.
Kugler switched parties after the Bergen Democrats voted Cureton as a candidate. Cureton beat Hasbrouck Heights GOP Mayor Jack DeLorenzo by a margin of 54% to 37%.
Kugler ran as an independent, finishing third in a field of four.
The boss was charged with an investigation by the New Jersey State Police’s official corruption bureau and the OPIA Corruption Bureau, Grewal said Monday.
Assistant Attorney General Eric C. Cohen is pursuing the case for the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).
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