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Random Notes on NJ Government

Recently discovered: Maple Shade police officer found not guilty of 2012 drunk driving charge.

This goes back more than five years, but I believe that this police officer’s acquittal on a drunk driving charge is of legitimate public interest especially because the acquittal, to my knowledge, was never published in the press even though the original charge did receive media attention. 

On May 17, 2012, the Burlington County Times published an article entitled “Maple Shade police officer charged with DWI after Pennsauken crash.” The full article cannot be viewed by those who do not subscribe to the Times but its first line, which is visible at the link above, states: “A Maple Shade police officer was driving drunk when he crashed a township-owned car into several street signs and a streetlight in Pennsauken on an early April morning, authorities [allege] . . .”

The only other reference I can find on the Internet regarding this event is a May 16, 2012 Courier Post article that states that the officer involved, Scott Pacheco, remained on duty after being charged with being “drunk when he wrecked a township police vehicle on his way home from a bar around 5 a.m.”  The article went on to report that Pacheco’s April 4, 2012 drunken driving charge was scheduled for a May 15, 2012 hearing before the Pennsauken Municipal Court but was postponed.  It further stated that “Pacheco, 28, a six-year veteran, was not on duty at the time of the crash, but was driving a 2006 blue Ford Crown Victoria assigned to the Maple Shade department” and that Pacheco, who allegedly “had a blood-alcohol level of .14 percent following the crash, nearly twice the legal limit of .08 percent” was “allegedly driving the vehicle eastbound on Maple Avenue when he bounced over the right curb, and plowed through two street signs before striking a light pole.” The article further reported that police records showed that Pacheco’s “eyes were noted as being watery and bloodshot” and that he “told a responding officer he was on his way home from Bryson’s Pub on Cove Road in Pennsauken.”

In response to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, the Township of Pennsauken released a motor vehicle crash report, the DWI summons issued to Pacheco and the report from the Alcotest machine. These three documents confirm the information contained in the Courier Post article.

In response to Judiciary Request, the Pennsauken Municipal Court disclosed a computer printout that showed that Pacheco was found not guilty of the DWI charge on April 4, 2013, exactly one year after the charge was made.  The printout also shows that due to a conflict, the case was sent to the Camden City Municipal Court for disposition.  Further information, such as the reason why the State could not prove Pacheco’s guilt, is unknown at this time and is probably available only on the audio recording of the court proceeding, if such still exists.

By John Paff

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project