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Former NJ Special Law Enforcement Officer Arrested for Financial Crimes Targeting Local Brazilian-American Community

Long Branch

By: Tracie Carter 

Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago delivered a significant announcement on Friday, revealing that a former Special Law Enforcement Officer (SLEO) in Long Branch, Bruno Lopes-Ferreira, has been apprehended and charged with a series of financial crimes aimed at members of the local Brazilian-American community.

Book Lopes-Ferreira, 30 years old, now faces serious charges, including second-degree Criminal Usury, second-degree Engaging in the Business of Criminal Usury, and third-degree Possession of Usurious Loan Records.

The investigation, spearheaded by Long Branch Police Department Detective Daniel Cunha, uncovered a disturbing pattern of criminal activities tied to Lopes-Ferreira.

Shockingly, these activities commenced while he was still employed as a Special Law Enforcement Officer, a provisional classification of police officers in New Jersey responsible for duties like traffic direction and crowd control.

Specifically, the investigation unveiled that Lopes-Ferreira had operated an illicit money-lending operation targeting victims within the community.

Reports from victims indicated that they had taken out loans from him and were charged exorbitant interest rates, often reaching a staggering 10 percent monthly or 120 percent annually.

This rate significantly exceeded the state's maximum allowable annual rate of 30 percent, as stipulated by law. 

Additionally, Lopes-Ferreira allegedly held collateral, such as victims' jewelry, passports, and Motor Vehicle Commission documents, refusing to return them until the principal amount and interest on the loans were paid in full.

Lopes-Ferreira received notice of the charges against him through a summons earlier this week. He is set to make his first appearance in Monmouth County Superior Court, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, December 19.

The case will be prosecuted by MCPO Assistant Prosecutor Lawrence Nelsen, who leads the Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit. Information regarding Lopes-Ferreira's legal representation was not immediately available.

Authorities are actively seeking information from the public related to the defendant's activities. Anyone with pertinent information is urged to contact Detective Cunha at 732-222-1000 as the investigation into this disturbing case continues.