Police officer charged with taking money for work he didn’t do

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Woodland Park Police Sgt. Thomas Bolen, 46, faces 5 years in prison if convicted of theft

A decorated Woodland Park police sergeant and board of education member has been arrested on charges he took money for work he did not perform, authorities said.

bolen.jpgThomas Bolen 

Thomas Bolen, 46, faces up to five years in prison if convicted of theft, according to Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes.

Bolen is accused of stealing from the borough from April to December 2016 while he was employed as a police officer, the prosecutor said.

“It is alleged that he received compensation from the borough for work he did not perform, and that the value of that compensation exceeded $500 but was less than $75,000,” Valdes said in a statement.

After he was arrested and processed, Bolen was released on a summons to appear in court, Valdes said. A person who answered the phone at Bolen’s home on Tuesday declined to comment.

Bolen is one of six sergeants in the department and serves as a member of the police color guard, according to the department’s website. State pension records show Bolen has more than 25 years of service and made $137,600 as of December.

He has been an elected member of the board of education for more than 10 years and is president of the local boys and girls club, according to board of education attorney Jeff Merlino.

“I’m really shocked by this charge,” Merlino said, adding that board members have no access to finances.

Merlino said Bolen was a longstanding, voluntary member of the board of education who coached sports and donated money and time to various causes.

When the Woodland Park school district went to a uniform dress code about five years ago, Bolen started a fund for parents who said they could not afford to buy khakis for their children, Merlino said.

“He wrote a personal check for hundreds of dollars to get that fund going,” the attorney said.

Bolen has also donated time by serving as president of the West Paterson Boys & Girls Club, Merlino said.

“Tom’s a friend, a colleague, a good board member, a good father and an excellent, outstanding member of the community,” Merlino said. “I’m hoping personally that this is just a big mistake.”

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mary Catherine Ryan said the investigation is ongoing. She referred questions about Bolen’s employment status to the Woodland Park Police Department.

Police Chief Anthony Galietti did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment on Tuesday.

Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.