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EXCLUSIVE: 2 Bloomfield cops cleared after 2 month suspension

Sarah Wallace has the exclusive story.
March 4, 2014 3:51:01 PM PST
An Eyewitness News exclusive to a story we first told you about in December where two police officers and decorated Iraqi veterans who were suspended without pay for allegedly lying about military leave time have now been cleared and are speaking out.

The two officers are now back in uniform in the Bloomfield Police Department and, they're receiving back pay for the time they were suspended. They may have cleared their names, but they say their fight isn't over.

LINK: READ PREVIOUS STORY FROM DECEMBER WHEN THEY WERE SUSPENDED

"It's unconscionable what they've done to us," said Michael McCracken. For more than two months, Michael McCracken and Hector Cartagena lived under a cloud, the two veteran Bloomfield, New Jersey police officers and Iraqi war veterans suspended without pay, accused by Internal Affairs investigators of lying about military leave time.

"The harassment was well-documented. They targeted us for being military veterans," he adds. Last night the two officers were officially cleared by the township of any wrongdoing and all charges dismissed.

"It was really rough mentally and physically to keep myself together for the sake of my family. Same thing to Hector. They did exactly the same thing to Hector," said McCracken.

We also spoke to Hector Cartagena. "I just want this to stop. I don't want this to happen to anyone else," he said.

The officers are now demanding a state investigation into the police department's division of internal affairs, and, in particular, Detective Sgt. John Sierchio, a lightning rod of controversy.

"He has no honor, he has no integrity," said McCracken. He adds, "I don't know how he can sleep at night thinking of what he has done to hurt me and Hector and our families like that."

Three other Bloomfield cops, one current, and two retired, have now signed sworn statements that Sgt. Sierchio waged a campaign of fear and intimidation, and even posted a hit list above his desk of certain officers.

"He used that list to threaten and intimidate anybody who didn't agree with him politically or in the department," said FOP Union President Anthony Argento.

Retired cop Michael Frazzano says he was targeted.

"They went to the prosecutor on me for some bogus claim which turned out to be bogus, you know," he said. Another retired officer Steven Antonson says, "There's a very obvious singling out of particular individuals. It's extremely obvious."

Sgt. Sierchio told Eyewitness News he has been ordered by police department officials not to speak to the media, but he did go on a recent Facebook rant, calling the council corrupt, and saying they let "two thieves off the hook." He's since denied he was referring to Cartagena and McCracken. They don't buy it.

"You can't allow people to run a police department and have them run amok and do whatever they want with no accountability. There has to be some kind of discipline that is brought against these folks to make everyone understand this can't happen again," adds McCracken.

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