Michael Cucciniello was a 12-year veteran police officer employed by the Secaucus Police Department in New Jersey. He had risen through the ranks and was well-paid with an annual salary of $113,000. What would possess a cop to throw it all away and go to the dark side? Why would he abandon his duty to uphold the law and become a common criminal?
For most officers, it is simply a matter of greed. They have a front row seat to observe the obscene amount of money to be made in the criminal underworld. The prospect of making hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars may seem very appealing for someone on a cop’s salary. And given the apparently high number of juiced cops, selling steroids may seem like a logical choice for a good cop looking to go bad.
There has been no shortage of cops who have done it. Newton Police Sgt. Steven Santucci decided to manufacture and distribute anabolic steroids around the country and lived the life of a drug kingpin. He used the substantial ill-gotten proceeds to pay for extravagant European and African vacations including African safaris and celebrity cruises.
West Yorkshire Police Detective Constable Nicholas McFadden lived a “champagne lifestyle” after making $1.7 million selling steroids and stolen narcotics. McFadden spent it on designer clothing, high-end artwork, first-class trips to exotic holiday locales and expensive gifts, fancy cars and free-spending shopping sprees for his wife and mistress.
But Cucciniello’s story is not one that resembles the greed of Sgt. Santucci or Det. McFadden. There were no luxury trips, fancy gifts and expensive women for Cucciniello. Cucciniello was willing to throw his entire career away and risk going to jail just so he could make a few extra hundred bucks selling AndroGel on eBay.
Cucciniello was diagnosed with hypogonadism by his doctor and given a prescription for the anabolic steroid testosterone. Cucciniello apparently decided testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) wasn’t for him. But he continued to refill his prescriptions at the local Lyndhurst Rite Aid pharmacy and decided to offer the AndroGel for sale to the highest bidder in auction listings on eBay.
Cucciniello wasn’t deterred by the fact that selling Schedule III controlled substances like anabolic steroids was a felony under both state and federal law. You would expect a dirty cop to be adept at covering his tracks. This wasn’t the case with Cucciniello.
Cucciniello openly sold steroids on eBay and failed to take any real precautions to hide his illegal activity. The Secaucus cop sold steroids on eBay for a period on 9 months before the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Internal Affairs Unit started investigating him.
In November 2014, Cucciniello was arrested and charged with the third-degree state felony of obtaining a controlled dangerous substance (anabolic steroids) by fraud. The charged was based on the fact that the Androgel was paid for by the insurance provider for the Secaucus Police; Cucciniello only paid his insurance co-payment.
Cucciniello’s involvement in selling steroids was admittedly so trivial that calling him a ‘steroid dealer’ seems inappropriate. His trangressions were exceedingly minor when compared to the notorious cases of steroid dealing cops who once worked for the sheriff’s and police departments in Arlington, Boston, Philadelphia, West Palm Beach, West Yorkshire England and King County Washington.
Yet, Secaucus police chief John Cerny said Cucciniello’s arrest for selling steroids represented a “dark day” in the history of the Secaucus Police Department.
“It’s a dark day for the Secaucus Police Department,” Cerny said. “Police Officers are sworn to uphold laws. They also have to abide by those very same laws. Wrongdoing will not be tolerated. We owe that to the public who entrusts us, as well as the men and women of this department who come to work every single day and do their job the right way.”
In May 2015, Cucciniello pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and agreed to never again hold a public job. While Cucciniello theoretically faced a 3-5 year prison sentence, he was granted probation as a first-time offender. But if he violates the conditions of his probation, he could still wind up in prison.
The Complete Series: When Your Local Cops Are Steroid Dealers
- Part 1 – The Newton Police Department
- Part 2 – The Philadelphia Police Department
- Part 3 – The Arlington Police Department
- Part 4 – The West Yorkshire Police Department
- Part 5 – The Niagara Regional Police Service
- Part 6 – The West Palm Beach Police Department
- Part 7 – The Boston Police Department
- Part 8 – The King County Sheriff’s Office
- Part 9 – The Secaucus Police Department
- Part 10 – The Edmonton Police Service
Conte, M. (May 29, 2015). Secaucus police officer pleads guilty to fraudulent steroid buy. Retrieved from http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2015/05/post_726.html