HOWELL, N.J. — An off-duty police sergeant was arrested after an undercover police officer caught him allegedly trying to meet up with someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl, officials said.
Richard Conte, who was a patrol sergeant on the midnight squad, was off-duty when he was arrested on Sept. 6, Howard Township Police Chief Andrew Kudrick said in a Facebook post.
Conte has been suspended without pay as officials investigate the “heinous crime of attempting to lure” a person he believed to be a 15-year-old girl, Kudrick said.
He’s charged with attempted to lure or entice a minor into a motor vehicle. He hasn’t posted bail as of Monday and is expected to appear in court on Wednesday, according to Ocean County jail records.
The chief said the department is also investigating whether Conte acted inappropriately while on duty.
“This includes pulling cellphone and computer usage, DMV access, and GPS activity on his patrol vehicle,” Kudrick said.
Conte was described by the police chief as a “highly competent supervisor” who has disrespected his department and the community.
“I offer my sincere apology to the community that we value and respect so deeply,” Kudrick said. “Our department’s reputation has been tarnished. I ask you not to judge us on the actions of one but rather on the outstanding service the remaining loyal officers provide with professionalism and pride every single day.”
Kudrick announced the arrest after New Jersey 101.5 reported the incident.
“I have been begrudgingly holding off releasing any information concerning this arrest at the request of the involved law enforcement agencies so not to compromise the ongoing investigation,” the police chief said in the Facebook post.
Conte graduated from the Monmouth County Police Academy in 1993. He spent time with Little Silver Police Department, Monmouth University Police Department before joining Howell Police Department in 1997. In 2017, Conte was promoted to sergeant in the Operations Division, according to the Howell Patch.
Police ask that anyone with information relating to this investigation to contact Howell Police at 732-938-4111 or the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-431-7160 ext. 7349.