CLIFFVIEW PILOT EXCLUSIVE: John Nicosia’s free-fall from grace continues: The former North Haledon detective, who held a SWAT team at bay a year ago after resigning in shame a decade earlier, is behind bars again. This time, it’s shoplifting – while he was free on bail for other charges.
Store surveillance photo of John Nicosia (INSET: Courtesy NJ Dept. of Corrections)
Nicosia, 40, who quiet the force in 2000 after the FBI caught him in a chop-shop sting, was picked up by Fort Lee police and charged with two separate instances of shoplifting in Moonachie.
He’s being held on $1,500 bail, with detainers from other police agencies, records show.
The stocky Nicosia may also be responsible for similar thefts from liquor stores and food establishments in Elmwood Park, Oakland and Wood-Ridge, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the situation told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
A year ago Sept. 30, SWAT team officers from the Bergen County Police Department surrounded a South Hackensack apartment where, authorities said, Nicosia had boarded his girlfriend into a room after an argument the night before.
After the woman got out, her ex-husband called police, they said.
For nearly four hours, negotiators tried to coax Nicosia out. Finally, a North Haledon police sergeant convinced him to surrender.
The woman later said she hadn’t been held against her will.
Nearly 20 years ago, the once-promising Nicosia became a probationary officer in North Haledon. He was permanently appointed in 1993 and less than three months later got into a car chase with two suspects, one of whom turned out to be one of Paterson’s most-wanted fugitives.
Within five years, he had his detective’s shield.
“He was a golden boy,” one officer told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Then it all went south.
The $3 million car insurance scam in 2000 yielded charges against 89 people, including Nicosia, who resigned from the department and spent a month in federal prison for falsely reporting his Jeep Cherokee stolen. Prosecutors said the Jeep was later driven to what Nicosia thought was a Queens chop shop – actually, an FBI front.
Nicosia later served three years probation in November 2002 for breaking into an elderly couple’s North Haledon home, where he once investigated a burglary, records show.
Four years ago, Nicosia was again arrested after officers stopped his swerving Ford pickup and found him sweating heavily, his license already suspended and his shorts down to his knees. Inside the truck, they said, they found crack pipes with residue.
Nicosia was back in the Bergen County Jail earlier this year on shoplifting charges out of Woodland Park and Cherry Hill, in addition to other counts from Fairfield and Riverdale – one involving unauthorized purchases made at a Home Depot on the credit card of a customer his father was doing contracting work for.
Nicosia spent two months in jail and was freed last month on $20,000 bail. Within weeks, he was wanted again.
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