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Trooper charged with stealing $3,700 from dying man was captured on dash camera

Hearst Communications Inc., Connecticut Post,
BYLINE: Daniel Tepfer,

Bridgeport, CT

Aaron Huntsman, a state trooper, was arrested after police said he took a chain and cash from the dead victim of a motorcycle crash in Fairfield in September 2012. Facebook photo. Photo: Contributed Photo

BRIDGEPORT -- A veteran state trooper denied stealing $3,700 from the mangled body of an Orange man on the Merritt Parkway, even after his superiors learned it was captured on the dashboard video camera of the trooper's car.

Trooper Aaron "AJ" Huntsman argued that he was asking about the "crash" -- not for the "cash" -- from 49-year-old John Scalesse, who was lying unconscious in the back of an ambulance, according to the arrest warrant affidavit released Tuesday.

Huntsman, 43, is charged with two counts of third-degree larceny, interfering with police and tampering with evidence. He is scheduled to be arraigned in state Superior Court in Bridgeport on Dec. 10.

Scalesse was killed Sept. 22 after his motorcycle crashed into a construction truck in the northbound section of exit 44 on the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield.

"The more we think about it, the more upset we get," said Scalesse's father, John Scalesse Sr. "It's just shocking that a police officer with 18 years would so something like this."

The affidavit states that Huntsman, who was the first trooper at the crash scene, walked to where Scalesse lay on the ground, and bent down and picked up Scalesse's gold chain from a pool of blood. Later, Huntsman told Scalesse's grieving father that he didn't see any money on the victim.

Police said a second trooper who was on the crash scene, Mark DiCocco, initially claimed he didn't see Huntsman take the money and was evasive when questioned about the incident.

"He didn't want to say anything against an 18-and-a-half-year veteran who may be having some issues," the affidavit states.

DiCocco later admitted he called Huntsman to warn him of the investigation, the affidavit states. DiCocco was not charged in the incident.

State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance has conceded Huntsman's arrest is a black eye for the department. But, Vance said, after the Scalesse family complained, state police immediately notified State's Attorney John Smriga.

According to the warrant affidavit, EMTs had just loaded Scalesse into the ambulance when one of them found a large wad of cash in Scalesse's pocket; DiCocco refused to take the money because he said Scalesse was still alive, but Huntsman took it, saying, "I'll take it, I'll take it as evidence."

State police later found the cash secured with a rubber band and under the front seat of Huntsman's cruiser.

As the ambulance drove off, Fairfield Assistant Fire Chief Scott Bisson told Huntsman he thought Scalesse's injuries looked grave, the affidavit states.

But Bisson said Huntsman replied they didn't look so bad and that he had seen worse.

The next morning, Huntsman was working the front desk at Troop G when he received a call from Scalesse's father asking about the gold chain and cash from the accident scene.

"He stated that he advised the father that he was not aware of these items and that most likely they would have gone with his son to the hospital," the affidavit states.

Huntsman did not report the call to his supervisors. He later claimed he didn't report the call because he didn't know if the father was telling the truth.

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