It's a guilty plea for two New Jersey cops who retaliated against a local man after he'd filed a complaint against them. New Jersey Advance Media reports that 27-year-old Thomas Dowling and 31-year-old Stephen Martinsen admitted to fourth-degree criminal mischief Tuesday after vandalizing two vehicles belonging to Ernest Mignoli, an Asbury Park resident known for being outspoken about the city's police department. Dowling and Martinsen had been accused of dressing up in disguises, getting on their bikes, and riding to both Ocean Grove and Asbury Park, where Mignoli's Toyota Prius and Jeep Liberty were parked. The officers then proceeded to slash the tires on both vehicles, as well as shatter a window on one of them, they admitted at Tuesday's hearing, per the Asbury Park Press.
The men's plea deals leave them ineligible for any future work with the state of New Jersey. They also have to pay back Mignoli for the damage, said to be around $500. Prosecutors are said to be pushing for probation instead of jail time for the two, as long as they pay that restitution to Mignoli. Dowling was terminated from the police force in September, while Martinsen was suspended without pay that same month. "Spiteful retaliation from law enforcement officers towards a citizen for any reason is an unacceptable option," Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni says in a statement. "This is in no way condoned at any level, for any reason." The men's sentencing is set for Oct. 16. (Read more New Jersey stories.)