Police agencies keep a tight lid on the facts surrounding police disciplinary charges and typically won't even confirm or deny that charges have been filed. But, when a cop decides to appeal the discipline imposed, an OPRA request can sometimes dislodge the appeal paperwork.
Such is the case regarding the appeals of Troopers Kenneth Franco and Georgina Sirakides, both of whom are charged with giving news journalists photographs taken in 2009 of five Troopers celebrating a Camden drug bust by waiving a Puerto Rican flag. Those photographs and celebration have received extensive publicity including articles in the Star Ledger and MyCentralJersey, as well as a spot on Fox News 29.
Earlier today, in response to my OPRA request, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law sent me the appeal paperwork on Files 07412-15 (Sirakides) and 07406-15 (Franco). Both officers are being represented by David J. Azotea of Atlantic City.
According to the specifications, Franco and Sirakides worked with "former Division member Victor Cooper" to inform journalists about Trooper Kenneth Sirakides, who is apparently Georgina Sirakides' estranged husband, being involved in a "Velocity Sports Performance Internet video" and for waiving the Puerto Rican flag in the drug bust photos.
The charges allege that State Police officials executed a communications data warrant that resulted in them searching Georgina Sirakides' Blackberry cellular phone. According to the charges, her cell phone "revealed a pattern of calls between [Franco], media reporters, Mr. Cooper and [her] during the time period surrounding the release of the photographs to Fox 29 News. The charges also allege that Franco had admitted to State Police investigators to "communicating with members of the media during this time period."
The charges against Georgina Sirakides allege that she "improperly accessed" Kenneth Sirakides Hotmail account and saved files from that account to her Blackberry phone. She is also charged with acting "to her personal discredit" by assaulting Kenneth Sirakides during two domestic violence incidents in August and October 2011.