Friday, March 07, 2014
Officer Clifton Gauthier Charged with Misconduct
Gauthier, 34, of Sparta, was charged Monday by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office with official misconduct, obstruction, witness tampering and hindering prosecution of another, according to court records. Gauthier was hired in the township in July 2005 and, though now suspended, was earning $108,525 annually.
Township officials would not immediately specify whether Gauthier was suspended with or without pay. Neither Gauthier nor defense lawyer Scott Krasny could immediately be reached Friday.
A male relative of Gauthier was ticketed for DWI in Rockaway Township by a state trooper identified only as N.S. Gauthier allegedly contacted the trooper on Feb. 9, 2012, and “suggested” he didn’t need to appear in township Municipal Court for trial because the charge was resolved, according to court records and officials.
Denis Driscoll, who was municipal prosecutor at the time, contacted the trooper, who stated he was told not to appear, and the investigation commenced, according to officials.
Township Mayor Michael Dachisen said that Gauthier is a good officer who served several military tours in Iraq. He said the relative who Gauthier allegedly tried to assist is either a cousin or an uncle. He declined further comment.
Police Chief Walter Ardin Jr. could not be reached. Gauthier is due to appear next week in Superior Court to receive initial discovery on the charges. They allege that he committed an act that constituted an unauthorized exercise of his position by suggesting to the trooper that he not appear on the scheduled court date so he could try to help a relative obtain a dismissal of the charge.
The most serious offense of official misconduct is a second-degree crime punishable upon conviction by up to 10 years in prison and automatic forfeiture of a public job and future public employment.