Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of a suspended detective of the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office (CMCPO) on charges that he conducted an unauthorized investigation into a minor motor vehicle accident involving a relative.
Detective Sgt. Robert P. Harkins Jr., 49, of Wildwood Crest, was charged today with the following offenses:
- Official Misconduct
- Tampering with Public Records or Information
- Falsifying or Tampering with Records
According to Acting Attorney General Bruck, Harkins was initially charged by complaint-summons on May 20, 2021, with third-degree tampering with public records or information and third-degree conspiracy to tamper with public records or information.
Acting Attorney General Bruck stated that it is alleged that in December 2019 and January 2020, Harkins personally initiated and conducted an unauthorized investigation into a minor motor vehicle accident involving a relative in the parking lot of a store in Middle Township, specifically to identify the driver of the other vehicle, who left the scene without exchanging information.
According to Acting Attorney General Bruck, Harkins allegedly failed to record his official actions in CMCPO’s records management system, as required, and instead documented them with an outdated “general investigation report” to avoid review by his superiors.
It is further alleged that Harkins—without approval, permission, or lawful authority—issued a subpoena to the store where the crash occurred used his CMCPO affiliation to send official requests for information to state agencies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Acting Attorney General Bruck said.
Ultimately, he provided his investigative findings, including a 10-page report and a file of various documents, to another law enforcement agency, the Middle Township Police Department.
The Middle Township Police Department, which was actually responsible for the official investigation of the accident, advised CMCPO of the situation.
Following an internal review by its Professional Standards Unit, CMCPO referred the matter to the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).