The Republican candidate for Bergen County Sheriff will be arraigned on October 7 on corruption and official misconduct charges.
Robert Kugler was suspended from his post as Saddle Brook police chief in March after the New Jersey Attorney General charged him with ordering police officers to provide escorts for a local funeral home he owns. The Bergen County Prosecutor immediately took control of the Saddle Brook Police Department.
Kugler was indicted on September 13, the attorney general’s office told the New Jersey Globe. He is scheduled to be arraigned just 26 days before he faces the voters in his bid to unseat incumbent Anthony Cureton.
The indictment alleges that Kugler violated local ordinances by ordering police officers working their regular shifts to escort funeral processions to cemeteries inside and outside the borough without reimbursing the municipality for the cost.
Since Kugler was charged by summons, he presently has no conditions to his release, according to Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
But that could change after Kugler appears before Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela in two weeks.
“When Kugler was initially served with the charges, he surrendered his two service weapons and his official identification,” Aseltine said. “Because Kugler is suspended, he has no police powers.”
In a Facebook digital campaign ad, Kugler is shown wearing his police uniform – and his badge – — and saying he’s the longest-serving police chief in Bergen County.
He could be asked to surrender personal weapons.
Despite the criminal allegations made against him, Republicans have stuck with Kugler.
He defeated Harry Shortway, Jr., the 82-year-old Midland Park mayor at the party convention by a vote of 269-98, 73%-27%. In the primary, he defeated Shortway by an 82%-18% margin.
Kugler mounted a campaign for the Democratic nomination for sheriff after Michael Saudino resigned in 2018 but lost the convention by a wide margin to Cureton. He ran as an independent, winning 13,203 votes (4%) countywide.
He became a Republican in 2019.