FREEHOLD – The Wall Township Police Department’s communications supervisor was accused of stalking the then-police chief’s secretary, but a jury saw matters differently.
Jurors believed the supervisor’s story that he was performing a required background check — one that revealed the secretary was carrying on an affair with the president of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, said the exonerated man’s attorney.
A jury in Monmouth County deliberated an hour before acquitting Nicholas Curcio of all charges against him, said defense attorney Edward C. Bertucio of the Hamilton law firm Kalavrus, Mumola, Hartman and Lento.
Curcio, 49, of Brick, would have faced 20 years in prison with a mandatory, 10-year period of parole ineligibility if he had been convicted of the charges against him, which included several counts of official misconduct, computer theft, stalking and wrongful impersonation, Bertucio said.
“He was thrilled that he’s been vindicated,” Bertucio said of his client.
The jury reached its verdict Thursday following a 3½-week trial before Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon
The defense attorney said Curcio, who was making more than $90,000 a year as a senior dispatcher and records custodian for the police department, now wants to go back to the job he held for 22 years, after being suspended without pay since September 2016.
“He’s going to go back to Wall with his head held high,” Bertucio said of his client.
The prosecution alleged that Curcio was stalking Bernadette Leye, who was former police Chief Robert Brice’s secretary. Bertucio said the jury believed Curcio’s story that he wasn’t stalking her, but that he was performing a background check on her as part of his duties as the department’s custodian of records, which required him to do background checks on the department’s employees twice a year.
Bertucio said Curcio in actuality was investigating Leye at the behest of Brice to establish that she was the lover of Richard Badali, the president of the Pagans, which is categorized by the FBI as an outlaw motorcycle club. Leye had been told by Brice in 2012 to stay away from Badali, but Curcio’s investigation revealed Leye was still involved with him in 2016, Bertucio said.
As part of the investigation, Curcio, with Brice’s knowledge, set up a Facebook account under the name of John Pasche, the British graphic artist who created the tongue-and-lip logo for The Rolling Stones.
According to Bertucio, he did this as part of an attempt to communicate with Leye, who he said has a tattoo of that logo on her body.
“In 2016, Nick made Chief Brice aware of her continued relationship,” the defense attorney said. “By September of 2016, the chief, in an effort to protect his assistant, accused Nick of stalking.”
Brice retired at the end of 2017.
During the trial, Leye admitted on the witness stand that her affair with Badali continued up to 2016, Bertucio said.
Curcio also testified that the charges were brought against him in retaliation for a pending lawsuit he has against the police department alleging he, as a darker-skinned Italian-American, has been the repeated target of racist remarks, including being called a monkey and the N-word, according to Bertucio. Learn more about the lawsuit by watching the above video.
Brice on the witness stand admitted that people under his command referred to Nick as “monkey” because of his dark complexion, Bertucio said.
The state’s case was presented by Margaret Koping, assistant Monmouth County prosecutor. The prosecutor’s office did not comment on the verdict.
Kathleen Hopkins: 732-643-4202; Khopkins@app.com