By: Yuritza Arroyo
Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that the former Howell Township police chief is facing criminal charges after he allegedly lied in a township investigation and threatened a high-ranking member of the police department in order to cover up a sexual affair with a subordinate.
Andrew Kudrick, 49, of Farmingdale, who retired from his position as the Howell Township Chief after the conduct alleged in the complaint, has been charged with official misconduct, false swearing, tampering with public records, tampering with and retaliating against witnesses, and obstructing the administration of law.
Those charges arise from an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability’s (OPIA) Corruption Bureau regarding an alleged extramarital affair the chief had with an employee of the Howell Township Police Department and his efforts to conceal it from the township during a sexual harassment investigation.
“Given the imbalance of power between a Chief of Police and a subordinate, any romantic relationship would be wholly inappropriate, violative of policy, and detrimental to the safety and well-being of the officers and civilians under the Chief’s command,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin.
“The defendant chose a profession centered around keeping others safe. He rose to the very top of that profession. But the conduct alleged in this complaint suggests that he created an environment within his police department where even the people who worked for him could not feel safe.”
“Any member of law enforcement who is not truthful during an investigation, and who abuses his power to intimidate and tamper with witnesses, has violated his oath and is not worthy of the public’s trust,” said Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.
A confrontation between the chief’s wife and suspected mistress during a 2021 retirement party raised suspicions about the possible existence of the improper relationship.
Following that incident, the township hired a special labor counsel to conduct an internal investigation, spurred by concerns that the municipal government could be at risk for liability due to the potential existence of a hostile work environment and sexual harassment within the police department.
The day before a captain with the Howell Township PD, who had knowledge and evidence of the affair, was slated to be interviewed a second time by the special counsel in late March 2022, it is alleged that Chief Kudrick threatened the captain in an effort to intimidate the witness against being truthful.
Specifically, Kudrick threatened to initiate an illegitimate internal affairs investigation of the captain, accusing him of speaking to the township manager directly without the chief’s approval, in order to intimidate the captain from truthfully cooperating in the special labor investigator’s probe.
Other charges stem from an official interview Kudrick gave to the special labor counsel, in which he falsely denied making sexual comments to, or having an intimate relationship with, the subordinate and denied he received explicit photos of her.
But the evidence showed an affair did take place, in violation of the Township’s Policy Against Fraternization prohibiting romantic relationships with subordinates.
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Attorneys General Samantha Thoma, Andrew Wellbrock and Sherrod Smith, under the supervision of Corruption Bureau Deputy Chiefs Heather Hausleben and Jeff Manis, Bureau Chief Peter Lee, OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione and OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher.
The charges against the defendant are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.