CAMDEN — The federal jury deliberating the fate of the former longtime chief of the Bordentown Township Police Department, who was captured on recordings using racist language and making threats against minorities and was accused of assaulting a young Black man, indicated Monday morning they are deadlocked.
The judge asked the panel of seven women and five men to give it one more try to determine if they can reach a unanimous verdict. After several more hours of deliberations, during which they asked for some transcripts, jurors told U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler they were done for the day shortly after 5 p.m. and would return Tuesday.
The jury began deliberations late Wednesday afternoon after hearing testimony and arguments over seven days in the hate crimes trial of Frank Nucera Jr., of Bordentown Township. They have now been deliberating for almost 24 hours.
Nucera, who once earned $150,000 as the chief and township administrator, was charged with hate-crime assault, deprivation of civil rights and lying to the FBI in connection with a 2016 incident at the former Ramada Inn off Route 206. He was accused of slamming the head of a handcuffed, 18-year-old Timothy Stroye into the metal door jamb at the top of a hotel stairwell.
Kugler could declare a mistrial if the jury cannot come to a unanimous decision.
Stroye is Black and federal prosecutors said the assault was motivated by Nucera’s intense “racial animus.” The government asked jurors to consider a series of secretly recorded conversations of the chief to prove their case.
Nucera, if convicted, faced 20 years in federal prison and the permanent loss of his six-figure pension. He was believed to be the first chief in over a decade to be tried on a federal hate crime.
On Friday, before breaking for the day, the jury asked for a clarification of the definition of reasonable doubt.
Kugler recharged the jurors on what they were told at the start of deliberations.
Jurors also asked Friday to see the transcript from the testimony Sgt. Nathan Roohr.
Over the course of the two-week trial, jurors heard audio from a handful of the 81 recordings Roohr made of conversations he had with Nucera and other officers, including a conversation shortly after Stroye’s arrest.
“I’m (expletive) tired of them man. I’ll tell you what, it’s gonna get to the point where I can shoot one of these (racial slur),” Nucera was heard saying after the arrest.
Roohr, a K-9 dog handler for Bordentown Township police, began secretly recording Nucera about a year before the assault after he allegedly heard the former chief say, “These (racial slur) are like ISIS; they have no value. They should line them all up and mow ’em down. I’d like to be on the firing squad, I could do it.”
Roohr made a note of it at the time, and would eventually read it to the jury during the trial.
Defense attorney Rocco Cipparone, while acknowledging that Nucera’s racist language was “ugly, embarrassing and offensive,” argued that the words did not prove Nucera assaulted Stroye. He also said the officers who testified case were all part of a conspiracy to remove a police chief who was tight with overtime, a stickler for the rules and someone who held is officers to a very high standard.
Nucera did not take the stand at trial, but jurors heard his interview with the FBI where he denied the incident with Stroye, who also did not testify. — (Burlington County Times)