- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 26, 2020

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) - Two police officers in New Jersey admitted they vandalized vehicles belonging to a man after he filed an internal affairs complaint against them.

Asbury Park Police Officer Stephen Martinsen, 31, and former Special Law Enforcement Officer Thomas Dowling, 27, both of Asbury, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to criminal mischief.

The vandalism took place early in the morning of Sept. 3, 2019.

The officers said they slashed the tires of the vehicles and smashed a window on one of them, causing more than $500 in damage.

“Spiteful retaliation from law enforcement officers towards a citizen for any reason is an unacceptable option. This is in no way condoned at any level, for any reason,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.

Under terms of a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a probationary sentence if restitution is paid to the victim for the damage. The defendants also will forfeit any future public employment in New Jersey.

Martinsen has been suspended without pay since the incident. Dowling was fired when the initial charges were filed.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 16.

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