Mounting debts ate away at detective Judgments a glimpse at cop's money woes

The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey)
BYLINE: RALPH R. ORTEGA, STAR-LEDGER STAFF

Franklin Township, NJ

A Franklin Township police detective's suicide earlier this year came after debt collectors, banks and credit card companies demanded he pay thousands of dollars in debts that are detailed in judgments filed at the Somerset County Courthouse.

Authorities who discovered Detective Peter William Furmick had taken almost $51,500 from an evidence room before he shot himself March 13 said they were saddened to learn the veteran cop was in "desperate financial trouble."

A police investigation found Furmick had 12 judgments totaling $100,000 against him. At least 10 judgments, found by The Star-Ledger at the courthouse in Somerville this week, showed his troubles with money dating back to 2004. The detective paid one judgment demanding almost $9,300 he owed on a Discover credit card, and had another judgment for almost $12,000 he owed to Citibank dismissed.

But the remainder of his debts to other creditors, banks and even two debt collection agencies totaled almost $76,000 when he died, according to computerized records at the courthouse. Eight of the judgments remain outstanding yesterday.

Furmick, 62, was a decorated officer who served more than three decades on the Franklin force. He was remem-bered at his funeral for his devotion to police work, his love for his wife and four children, and a zest for life. The detec-tive had traveled to Europe and Africa, gone skydiving, and was an avid sportsman. But investigators said they suspect his mounting debts were eating away at Furmick, who tried to stall an attorney from collecting $16,300 from the evidence room after a municipal judge issued an order for the money March 12.

The attorney made several calls up to when Furmick shot himself the following day, police said. "Obviously Detective Furmick knew he inevitably would have been caught," said Lt. Robert Vornlocker, who worked with the detective for 23 years.

Investigators said they found two empty evidence envelopes for $2,690 and $880 among Furmick's personal belongings at his home in southern Franklin. They also said Furmick had been in charge of standing in the evidence room vault for its annual audit in 2007, and had insisted on holding on to the job for this year's audit.

Security has since been beefed up. However, the evidence room was already up to standards set by the state Attorney General's Office when Furmick was believed to have taken the cash, police said. "The system in place worked," said Vornlocker with disappointment over Furmick's behavior.

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