PITTSBURGH – A New Jersey state trooper shoplifted gun accessories and attempted to get out of his arrest by telling a Pennsylvania police officer that he would lose his job in Gov. Chris Christie’s security detail if charges were filed, a police chief told The Associated Press today.
Trooper William Carvounis, 35, of North Brunswick, N.J., was at a Cabela’s sporting goods store on Jan. 8 when he put several items in his cargo pants pockets – including some handgun grips, a pistol magazine and a hat – and put a $29.99 binocular strap in a box for a product worth $19.99, according to a criminal complaint filed by Tilden Officer Dennis Schwoyer.
While Carvounis paid for some items at checkout, he allegedly did not pay for the concealed items, which were worth $267.38.
Tilden Township Chief William McEllroy confirmed the arrest first reported by New Jersey Watchdog, a news website run by an investigative reporter.
Schwoyer filed the charges after Carvounis repeatedly asked for a break, McEllroy told the AP.
“It was, more or less, ‘Look, I’ve got a good job, I’m on the governor’s security detail, I don’t want to lose my job,’ along those lines,” McEllroy said.
Carvounis didn’t explicitly ask for the break because of his position on the governor’s detail; it was “more or less one cop asking another cop for a break multiple times,” McEllroy said. He noted that his department’s policy forbids such special treatment.
The trooper’s attorney, Charles Sciarra, said his client denies he sought special treatment and the underlying shoplifting charges.
He said a police report and the criminal complaint don’t mention the trooper asking for a break.
“The initial reports we have don’t indicate anything about such a request,” said Sciarra, of Hamilton, N.J. “With that said, my client made purchases that day and denies any allegation of any shoplifting. And quite frankly, we see no connection between what’s occurred in the store in Pennsylvania and his duties for the New Jersey State Police.”
Sciarra confirmed that Carvounis has been suspended from his job. He said “his suspension paperwork from the state police does not mention anything about asking for a courtesy and abusing his position.”
Carvounis is charged with two counts of retail theft, online court records show. One is a first-degree misdemeanor that can carry up to five years’ in prison, and the other a summary offense, which is similar to a traffic ticket.
The trooper remained free on bond Monday, and court records show he has waived his right to a preliminary hearing, meaning the charges must be disposed of at a trial or through a plea in Berks County Common Pleas Court.