Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | May 16, 2011

Crime pays

You just can’t make this stuff up. This is a story you have to read for yourself.

Briefly, a driver named Clayton Tanksley was rammed from behind on a South Jersey highway two years ago. He suffers many injuries and is car is so demolished that the police send their fatal accident unit to the scene. A man named William Gillespie is charged with the accident, and later sued by Tanksley. But it turns out that Gillespie is the undercover name for a State Police Detective Sgt. William Billingham, who hid his real name during the accident (yes, that’s against police policy). Tansksley and his lawyer have to try to figure out who Gillespie really is. The Star Ledger (NJ’s newspaper) tracks down the officer’s real identity (thereby probably making Tanksley a subscriber for life).

Turns out that Gillespie/Billingham aren’t the only ones covering things up. Fellow state troopers gave Tanksley’s insurance company false and incomplete information as well. They apparently wrote in their report that they didn’t test Billingham for alcohol, and they didn’t file charges or issue a ticket. Top troopers were apparently well-informed about the accident, as were prosecutors. Details about the off-duty police office driving an unmarked TROOP CAR were sent to superior officers including the state police superintendent. Two years later he was suspended without pay, after internal investigations, and there’s evidence he was drunk driving. Of course Billingham is pleading not guilty.

There may not have been a case, except someone sent an anonymous letter to the attorney general’s office about Billingham and the troopers who covered for him. The case arrived at the prosecutor’s office almost a year after the accident. He wasn’t charged for another year, making it too late for a drunk driving charge to be filed.

But WAIT! It gets better. Tanksley, the auto victim, had a pistol locked in a box in the back of his SUV. The crash set it loose, and Tanksley put it in the glove compartment and told a trooper about it. Apparently it was legally purchased in Pennsylvania where he has a permit, but he hadn’t yet registered it in New Jersey. The day after the accident Tanksley was told he could get his gun and other belongings at the police station. Upon arrival, he was arrested and charged with weapons possession because he didn’t have a NJ permit. He ended up with probation and community service.

But WAIT! It gets EVEN BETTER. Tanksley had planned to become a Philadelphia police officer, but because of the weapons charge, he’s now ineligible. Billingham, however, is still a state police officer.


I can’t keep up with all the misdeeds done by law enforcement officials and politicians in this state. This month the Trenton mayor’s chief of staff was charged with heroin possession and aggravated assault on a police officer after he was arrested a few blocks from city hall.


Dori recently finished taking NJASK – the New Jersey version of standardized tests. Glad to know that teachers in eight New Jersey school districts last year were reported to be cheating on the tests, by giving kids extra time, telling them they had the wrong answers and reviewing math problems they would need on the test, just before administering it.

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