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Defense lawyer: Suspended Cliffside Park officer appealing conviction in altered car case

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

CVP EXCLUSIVE: The attorney for a suspended Cliffside Park police officer said he is appealing yesterday’s decision by a judge in Hackensack to uphold his client’s conviction for trying to make his personal car look like an undercover police cruiser without authorization — and said he aims to determine “who the real culprit is.”

“Officer [Jon] Lemkin will never — and I repeat: never — give up this cause, nor will my firm on his behalf,” Patrick Toscano told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight.

Superior Court Judge Eugene Austin’s ruling upholds a December decision by fellow jurist Roy F. McGeady, the presiding municipal judge for Bergen County. It includes an order that Lemkin resign and never hold a public job again.

Lemkin is now headed to the state Appellate Division, Toscano said.

“Both Judges McGeady and Austin are brilliant, fair and exceedingly fair jurists,” the attorney said, “and while we accept their decision, we respectfully take issue with certain of their legal interpretations therein.”

McGeady’s ruling came in response to a request by Lemkin’s previous lawyer that he reconsider his original guilty verdict after a four-day trial a month earlier.

The judge found the former officer guilty of altering a license plate, installing emergency lights in his own car without authoritization and not displaying a valid inspection sticker.

Once McGeady turned down his appeal, Lemkin took his case to Superior Court.

All along, he’s argued that the tinted windows and lights were intended to make his black Ford Crown Victoria look like an undercover police vehicle as a crime deterrent in his neighborhood.

Prosecutors said Lemkin altered two characters on the license plate — which got him suspended in 2011 — so that any checks on it would come back as if it were an undercover patrol car.

Lemkin, however, said he was framed by another cop he didn’t get along with.

“Eventually, we will all look back on this unfortunate circumstance and realize exactly who was to blame for framing Officer Lemkin in this case,” Toscano told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “We will not stop until we ascertain who the real culprit is.”

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