Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced today that the Honorable Peter J. Vazquez, J.S.C., sentenced Kareem Spence, 35, of South Plainfield to three years probation for insurance fraud.
A former East Orange police officer, on Nov. 19, 2010 Spence entered a guilty plea to one count of 3rd degree insurance fraud.
Citing the fact that it was Spence’s first indictable offense, Judge Vazquez sentenced him to three years probation. However, the judge noted probation may be revoked and Spence can be required to serve up to five years in state prison if he violates the terms of probation.
Spence had been a police officer for six years when he decided to torch his 2002 Cadillac Coupe deVille. The car had 122,000 miles and was malfunctioning. At the time Spence still owed $8,000 on the vehicle. In an effort to get rid of the car and recover the insurance proceeds, Spence drove the vehicle to 50 Rich Street in Irvington and set it on fire.
On March 30, 2010 Spence was indicted on aggravated arson, insurance fraud and attempted theft by deception. As part of the plea agreement, the arson and theft by deception charges were dismissed. Spence was also required to resign from his job with the East Orange Police Department because of his conviction and is permanently barred from working in law enforcement.
Assistant Prosecutor Michael G. Morris, head of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office’s Vehicle Fire Initiative, who handled the case said, “It is a sad day when the men we look to enforce the law break the law.