FREEHOLD, NJ - On June 14, 2012, a Monmouth County jury found Darnell Esdaile, 46, a Freehold Borough police officer, guilty of Shoplifting, a fourth degree crime. Upon the return of the jury verdict, the Honorable Anthony J. Mellaci, Jr., who presided over the trial, ordered that Esdaile immediately forfeit his position as a police officer with the Freehold Borough Police Department. Esdaile will be sentenced by Judge Mellaci on September 28, 2012.
The jury verdict stemmed from Esdaile’s arrest at Home Depot in Freehold Township on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2010. On that day, Esdaile, who was off duty, was detained by Home Depot Loss Prevention officers as he was exiting the store with laminate flooring materials valued at slightly less than $500.00, before tax, without having paid for the products. He was then escorted by Loss Prevention officers and taken to an office within the store, as a store official contacted the Freehold Township Police Department.
Testimony adduced at trial revealed that approximately an hour before his arrest, Esdaile had been in the Freehold Township Home Depot and loaded eight boxes of laminate flooring on a flatbed cart, as well as a steam mop. Esdaile approached the cashier, advised her that he had already paid for the flooring and simply wanted to be charged for the mop. When Esdaile failed to produce a receipt for his alleged purchase, the cashier alerted store security. Esdaile ultimately set the steam mop aside and proceeded to another register where he paid for the eight boxes of laminate flooring with a credit card. He then left the store and loaded the purchased merchandise into his vehicle.
After loading the flooring into his car, Esdaile proceeded back into the store, with the same flatbed cart and reselected the same type of flooring in the same exact quantity. Additionally, he placed six pieces of quarter-round molding on the flatbed cart, along withthe flooring. Esdaile then made his way to a register, where he dealt with another cashier, and showed her a receipt for the earlier purchased flooring. At that time, Esdaile indicated to the cashier that he had already purchased the flooring, but had forgotten to purchase the quarter-round molding. He showed the cashier his receipt for the first batch of laminate flooring, purchased just minutes before, and requested to be rung up only for the molding. Esdaile then attempted to leave the store with the unpaid flooring when he was stopped byHome Depot security.
In addition to forfeiture of employment, Esdaile faces a maximum potentialcustodial sentence of up to 18 months in State prison, along with various fines. Esdaile remains free on bail pending his September sentencing. Esdaile was sworn in as a Freehold Borough Police Officer on March 4, 1996. As a result of his arrest for the theft of the materials, he was suspended from his job, without pay, on November 17, 2010. At that time his salary was $99,402.
The case was investigated by the Freehold Township Police Department and the Professional Responsibility Unit of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. The case was tried by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Gregory J. Schweers, Director of the Professional Responsibility Unit, and Andrew Fried. Esdaile was represented by Mitchell Ansell, Esq., of Ocean, New Jersey.