TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An internal state police investigation has found that a claim that New Jersey State Assemblyman Nelson Albano (D-Vineland) was improperly issued a speeding ticket earlier this year was unfounded.
The Star-Ledger reported Sunday that just before state police issued him a ticket on Feb. 21, Albano claimed he might have been targeted as payback for opposing health benefit and pension reforms approved by the Assembly, though he admitted he had no proof to back up that assertion.
Meanwhile, the trooper who issued the citation claimed police union leaders pressured him to make the ticket “disappear,” allegations they denied.
Albano, a Democrat, had withdrawn his complaint in late April. The Vineland resident has represented the state’s 1st Legislative District since 2006.
Albano did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment. However, Tom Hester Jr., a spokesman for Assembly Democrats, issued a statement to the Star-Ledger on his behalf.
“This all happened the same month that the man who killed Assemblyman Albano’s son was released from jail and the Assemblyman had a heart attack,” Hester said in the statement. “Assemblyman Albano apologized and paid the fine and will have no further comment on this issue.”
Authorities have said Albano was going 71 mph in a 55 mph zone when he was stopped Feb. 21 on Route 29 in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, by trooper Randy Pangborn. At the time, Albano was driving to the Statehouse for Gov. Chris Christie’s budget address.
Six days after the stop, Albano wrote a letter to state police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, claiming Pangborn singled him out, treated him like a criminal and detained him from official business. However, Albano admitted he was not late for Christie’s speech.
The traffic stop was captured by a camera inside the trooper’s patrol car, and The Star-Ledger recently obtained a copy. The newspaper said the video shows the trooper was respectful, calm, never raised his voice and had the lawmaker on his way in just eight minutes.
Pangborn accepted the vehicle’s temporary registration and even apologized for writing the ticket. But when Albano asked for a break, he politely told him to call the court.
Pangborn did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment on the video of the traffic stop.
After word of Albano’s complaint became public in April, he apologized for asking the trooper to not issue him a ticket. At the time, Albano said he would pay the fine but stressed that he was not trying to use his elected position when he made the request, adding that any motorist has the right to make the request he made.
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