Former Aberdeen, NJ Police Officer sentenced for tampering with evidence twice at ATPD
A former police officer in Aberdeen Township has received a jail sentence after he was found to have tampered with evidence on two separate occasions.
The details from the case and sentence were announced by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.
Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey said that 35-year-old Philip M. Santiago has been sentenced to 364 days in jail at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold Township along with three years of probation afterwards and will be barred from future public service in New Jersey.
The actions of the now former police officer in Aberdeen Township were uncovered first in January of 2021 when Santiago had "intentionally tampered with a law-enforcement drug test he had been ordered to take by piercing it with the pin on the back of his police badge, rendering it unable to be processed," according to Acting Prosecutor Linskey stemming from an investigation conducted by the MCPO's Professional Responsibility and Bias Crime Unit.
Then in May of 2021, Santiago committed a separate infraction while on duty when he "deleted a video from a cell phone belonging to a suspect who was in custody, having just been arrested by members of the Aberdeen Police Department."
Acting Prosecutor Linskey said the video showed an interaction between police officers and the suspect prior to his arrest.
In September of 2021, Santiago was criminally charged and suspended from duty and later pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree Tampering with Physical Evidence.
Four years after being sworn in as a police officer in 2018 after making the transition from emergency dispatcher, Santiago was suspended, and has since been removed from his position as a police officer and will head to jail.
“Using one’s badge, a symbol of public trust, to break the law, is an affront to all law-enforcement officers who understand the duties and responsibilities that come with wearing the badge,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said in a written statement. “There is no place in law enforcement for such conduct, and this defendant’s actions are not representative of the vast majority of officers in Monmouth County who serve with honor and integrity.”
“From the onset of this investigation, the Aberdeen Township Police Department worked in complete cooperation with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office,” Aberdeen Township Police Chief Matthew T. Lloyd said in the same written statement. “We have zero tolerance for any actions that are contrary to our core values as trusted public servants of the residents of Aberdeen Township and of the State of New Jersey as a whole.”
Acting Prosecutor Linskey said that this case was handled by "Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibility and Bias Crimes Unit. Santiago was represented by Michael Reilly, Esq."