The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey), MONMOUTH/OCEAN EDITION, NEWS; Pg. 001, Newark Morning Ledger Co.
BYLINE: James Queally, Star-Ledger Staff
A decorated police sergeant lost his job earlier this month after he was accused of failing to log eight concert tickets into evidence that were being scalped outside a high-priced Miley Cyrus performance in 2007, authorities said.
Michael DiFabio -- awarded the Newark Police Department's highest honor in 2005 and who entered into a probationary program on Jan. 11 -- will be barred from governmental employment and has resigned from the department, according to Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.
DiFabio was indicted on charges of official misconduct and evidence tampering in 2009, Carter said. As part of his agreement, DiFabio did not admit to those charges and must pay $175 in fines and enter into the court's pre-trial intervention program, known as PTI.
"The case is over. He did not admit to any wrongdoing," said his attorney, Anthony Fusco Jr. "There's a PTI period. After that the case will be dismissed and he will get an expungement."
DiFabio, 45, of Brick, declined to comment.
The now ex-sergeant was overseeing police officers assigned to the teen starlet's "Best of Both Worlds Tour" at the Prudential Center on Dec. 30, 2007, when an officer seized eight tickets from a scalper, Carter said. The officer turned them over to DiFabio, who allegedly gave two tickets to a friend and failed to log the other six into evidence, according to Carter.
Tickets to the performance were being scalped and resold at up to five times their value. It is unclear if DiFabio received money for any of the tickets, Carter said.
His alleged actions went unnoticed until the accused scalper, Joseph Truch, faced charges in Newark municipal court in 2008. Carter said charges against Truch were dropped when the municipal prosecutor discovered the tickets were missing from evidence.
But Ticketmaster reported that all eight tickets had been used at the concert, said Carter, sparking an investigation. The vanished tickets were traced back to DiFabio when Newark attempted to suspend the officer who seized them from Truch, she said.
"It was brought up that the suspension could last for months and even result in termination," said Carter. The officer soon told investigators he gave the tickets to DiFabio.
DiFabio was a Newark officer for 17 years and last served as an officer at Newark's Green Street jail, according to a police spokesman. Records show he earned $101,289 per year.
Teenagers flocked to the "Best of Both Worlds Tour," which also featured the Jonas Brothers and sold out the Prudential Center for two nights, causing large-scale inflation of ticket prices on the resale market. One ticket to a tour stop in Charlotte, N.C., reportedly went for $2,565.
Before his indictment, DiFabio was regarded as a hero and was a recipient of the Medal of Valor after saving a detective's life during a furious shootout in 2005. DiFabio was a supervisor with the "Safe City" initiative when he witnessed a gunman open fire on Detective Patrick Gonnella in the city's West Ward, striking him five times, said Capt. John Chrystal, president of Newark's Superior Officers Association.
The suspect exchanged gunfire with DiFabio and then fled on foot, Chrystal said. The firefight lasted several minutes and spanned three blocks, said Chrystal, before DeFabio eventually shot and killed Gonnella's attacker.
"Mike was a decorated officer who received our highest honor," Chrystal said. "We wish him the best of luck."
DiFabio's heroic response to the shooting left a "lasting impression" on the department, according to Chrystal, who said DiFabio "showed that he was a brave and dedicated police officer."
Staff writer Jay Lustig and the Associated Press contributed to this report. James Queally: (973) 392-1790 or
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