HOWELL-Richard C. Conte, 47 a Howell police officer and head of the Monmouth County SWAT team has been charged with trying to lure a child for a sexual encounter. Conte was arrested in Toms River during an undercover operation.
Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick issued a statement regarding his officer’s arrest. He said because of his closeness to the subject, he was worried at first that his statements could compromise the ongoing investigation.
“I have been begrudgingly holding off releasing any information concerning this arrest at the request of the involved law enforcement agencies so not to compromise the ongoing investigation,” Kudrick said. “I now issue this statement with tremendous sadness, disappointment, anger and embarrassment.”
“Howell police Sgt. Richard Conte was arrested while off-duty,” Kudrick added. “Charged with the heinous crime of attempting to lure after arriving to meet with a girl who he believed was 15 years old. It was actually an undercover officer.”
“Prior to the arrest, I was made aware of the situation. It sickened me to learn one of my officers, a highly competent supervisor none the less and one that I have worked alongside with for many years on the SWAT team, not only defied my trust, but fellow officers as well. But most importantly, defied the public’s trust and expectations of a police officer. As such, I fully supported the investigation and provided input to ensure his apprehension,” he said. “The charges, along with my firsthand knowledge of the investigation, led me to recommend an immediate suspension without pay. This was supported by the township manager and labor counsel.”
Kudrick said his department is now investigating whether Conte acted inappropriately while he was on duty. This includes pulling cellphone and computer usage, DMV access, and GPS activity on his patrol vehicle.
He was assigned as a patrol sergeant on the Midnight Squad. As of this issuance, nothing has been revealed. If anyone has any suspicions or information pertaining to this investigation is urged to contact Howell Police Internal Affairs or the Professional Responsibilities Unit of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
“I offer my sincere apology to the community that we value and respect so deeply. Our department’s reputation has been tarnished,” Kudrick added. “I ask you not to judge us on the actions of one but rather on the outstanding service the remaining loyal officers provide with professionalism and pride every single day.”