Hackensack police officers accused in accident cover-up

October 2, 2010 8:42:48 AM PDT
Two probationary Hackensack police officers stand accused of falsifying records after one of them was involved in an off-duty auto accident. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said 24-year-old Jakub Szostak of Hackensack crashed his car June 2, shortly after leaving a local bar.

Fellow officer Eric Mark - a 30-year-old city resident who was on duty and had met with Szostak in the bar's parking lot minutes before the crash - arrived on scene a short time later.

Despite indications that Szostak had been drinking alcohol, Molinelli said no sobriety tests were administered and the accident was reported as a hit-and-run.

Szostak then allegedly provided false information to his insurance company, which paid him an undisclosed damage claim.

Szostak, who also was charged with insurance fraud, and Mark both declined comment.

But Mark's lawyer, Michael Mitzner, told The Record that his client "is absolutely not guilty of doing anything wrong in connection with that accident investigation which will be borne out when the case gets further along."

Both officers officially joined the force in January, but they have been on unpaid suspension since July, the newspaper reported.

They also face administrative charges brought by the city, but Hackensack officials declined further comment on the issue, saying it was a "personnel matter."

If convicted of falsifying records, Szostak and Mark could each get up to 18 months in prison. If convicted of insurance fraud, Szostak could get up to five years in prison.

Both officers are scheduled to make their first court appearance on Wednesday.